• Tony Bosworth

Hawkesbury Living – 25 transferred to hospital, total of 19 residents with COVID and 8 staff

Richmond’s Hawkesbury Living care home has confirmed this afternoon that of the 25 residents who have been transferred to Nepean Private and public hospitals, as well as to Hawkesbury Hospital, 4 have tested positive to COVID, as have 15 residents still at the March St home, and 8 staff members.

The residents who have been moved to hospitals, “have been temporarily relocated to alternative accommodation to ensure they have access to the best available healthcare,” said Hawkesbury Living’s Group CEO Kimberley Talbot.

“Those transferred are at-risk clients who have recently received their second vaccination, had one dose, or have respiratory issues,” said Ms Talbot.

Four of the 25 have tested positive to the Delta variant and have mild symptoms, she said.

More than 85% of Hawkesbury Living residents – the home calls them ‘consumers’ - and 76% of staff have been vaccinated, receiving either one or two doses – so it’s not clear how many have been fully vaccinated.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said earlier this year all aged care staff would be fully vaccinated by this past Easter.

“Those remaining clients who want to be vaccinated will receive their first or second dose,” said Ms Talbot, who didn’t give any timeline for that to happen.

She also said there had been no COVID-19 related deaths at Hawkesbury Living.

Ms Talbot said it was decided to transfer some residents to nearby hospitals as an added safety measure.

“Their care will be similar to that provided at Hawkesbury Living with the added security of on-the-ground specialist clinical expertise should it be required,” Ms Talbot said.

“The Richmond Club will coordinate the delivery of care and comfort packages from consumers’ families to their loved ones in the hospitals, and they will continue to have access to their families via video calls.

“Early vaccinations have given our elderly consumers a very good level of protection.”

She said all residents who tested positive were either asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms. The majority are in the later stages of their infection and are asymptomatic, she said.

Eight of Hawkesbury Living’s 184 staff have tested positive and are in isolation.

Of those residents who remain in the facility, 77 are COVID-free and 15 who are COVID-positive are asymptomatic and in isolation, says Ms Talbot.

Ms Talbot tells us Hawkesbury Living has engaged a nurse advisor – the Department of Health told us last week they had placed the nurse advisor at the site - who is experienced in supporting facilities with COVID, to work on site, and local GP Mark Brunacci, who has a special interest in respiratory medicine, will carry out thorough daily reviews of every resident.

All residents and staff are tested daily for COVID-19 and staff wear mandatory personal protective equipment (PPE), said Ms Talbot.

“We have been working very closely with NSW Health, the Australian Government Department of Health, and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission,” she said.

“The health network that has been coordinated by the NSW and Commonwealth governments has been outstanding in their efficiency to coordinate additional services to our site.”

Ms Talbot said she wanted to reassure residents’ loved ones that providing the best possible care for their relatives was paramount. “I empathise with our families and understand this time is extremely stressful.

“We consider the health and wellbeing of their loved ones and the primary carers foremost in their ongoing care during the pandemic.

“I communicate regularly with the families of our consumers who have been affected, phoning them throughout the day and each evening I send them a written update from my site acting general manager.

“It has been critical in enabling me to directly voice any of their concerns to the relevant government bodies and hospitals.

“The positive feedback from families regarding the care of their relatives at Hawkesbury Living has been overwhelming.

“We hold video teleconferencing meetings to update all our stakeholders on our COVID-19 strategy.

“We will continue to keep families and the community updated,” Ms Talbot said.

“On behalf of our board of directors I would like to sincerely thank the families of our consumers who have been so understanding as we navigate the continuity of care of their loved ones, the NSW and Commonwealth governments, especially the clinical first responders who have been working on site.”

Macqaurie MP Susan Templeman has been closely following events as try've unfolded at the home and she's also been in touch with relatives.

She told the Post this evening her thoughts are with the families of those who live in the facility.

“What’s different to the aged care outbreaks last year is clearly the impact of vaccinations,” Ms Templeman said.

“While more than two dozen residents have been transferred to hospital, what the health authorities report is that the fully vaccinated residents who are Covid positive are asymptomatic or showing mild symptoms, and that’s exactly what you’d expect to see with the vaccine.

“These are already frail people, and they deserve the best medical care.”

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