• Tony Bosworth

13 COVID cases at Richmond’s Hawkesbury Living – 7 residents, 6 staff

We reported yesterday on COVID numbers at one of the Hawkesbury’s main care homes, Hawkesbury Living – and we can now confirm 7 residents and 6 staff are infected with COVID at the March Street home.

The most recent positive result on Sunday was a staff member who had previously tested negative. Of the 134 residents and 184 staff, a total of 13 - 7 residents and 6 staff members - have a current positive test.

“None of the resident cases are critical,” said CEO Kimberely Talbot this morning, “ however, unfortunately, our thoughts are with a staff member who is quite seriously ill”, she said.

The aged care home has separated the positive resident cases into an isolated zone with dedicated staff.

Ms Talbot said the State Government had taken the lead with the COVID outbreak and provided directions on stopping further infections, and lessening the chance of cross over into the other building the home runs. They’ve also helped ensure COVID related procedures specific to the Delta strain are in place.

“The Clinical First Responders from the Commonwealth have greatly assisted our staff with how to implement these directions,” said Ms Talbot this morning.

“The organisation is working closely with NSW Health, specialists from infectious disease units, emergency response teams and related agencies to minimise the spread, while providing the best possible care onsite.”

“Residents who have tested positive are given the option to be treated in our segregated wing or be transferred to Nepean Hospital, with whom we have a strong relationship. To date, all infected residents have chosen to stay at Hawkesbury Living. No resident is considered critical at this stage, and should that change, the hospital will be engaged immediately,” said Ms Talbot.

Vaccinated residents are cohorted together in a separate zone. Rivera, the new extension, and the rest of the site remains COVID free at this stage.

Some 89.1% of residents and over 70% of Hawkesbury Living’s team members have received either one or both doses of vaccine, with more scheduled to be vaccinated very soon.

Staff who have tested positive or have been a close contact are in self isolation.

Ms Talbot says all staff have been wearing mandatory personal protective equipment (PPE) as a precaution since a fully vaccinated staff member returned a positive result, with no symptoms and multiple negative results prior, earlier this month during a routine staff testing procedure. Since then, another staff member has contracted the Delta strain of COVID-19.

“That staff member is currently battling the illness,” said Ms Talbot.

“Our thoughts and wishes are with her and her family. I can confirm that the staff member lives in St Marys.”

Ms Talbot added that, “it was timely that the Board of Directors approved a complete update of all policies and procedures four months ago in light of the pandemic. This update involved re-training staff in infection control and revisiting our pandemic plans. This, alongside high vaccination rates within the facility, has minimised the acuteness of the outbreak.

“As of today – Monday - it appears that we are stabilising, however the Delta strain is unpredictable.

“We are sufficiently resourced to provide the care and protection required to keep our residents as safe and healthy as possible with all the assistance provided by the Commonwealth and State. In addition to the onsite Clinical First Responders team, we have accessed extra clinical staff through further Commonwealth and State assistance, plus via our own broader Richmond Club Executive team.”

The CEO added she was hopeful the home would have staff returning to work from Tuesday, afer their isolation periods had ended.

In addition to nightly reports to all families to relay results of daily testing activity, telephone conferences are regularly held to provide facility updates, high frequency individual updates are provided to family members of positive cases, and residents are using Facetime to stay in contact with their families virtually.

“We will provide periodic updates to the broader community over the coming days and weeks,” said Ms Talbot.

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