Peninsula Health has confirmed 618 staff have been furloughed following a coronavirus outbreak at Frankston Hospital, in Melbourne’s south-east.
- Peninsula Health, which runs Frankston Hospital, is also battling an outbreak at its rehabilitation centre
- There are 434 active cases of coronavirus in healthcare workers across Victoria at the moment
- Authorities are investigating new cases at three hospitals including the Thomas Embling secure mental health facility
There are now 44 active COVID-19 positive cases in Peninsula Health staff members. The hospital’s outbreak was linked to at least 51 cases last week.
Peninsula Health’s chief executive, Felicity Topp, said the organisation had been working with a team of infection prevention experts to undertake a review of their COVID-19 practices following the Frankston Hospital outbreak.
“We have further strengthened our infection prevention measures, including the extension of our contact tracing of both staff and patients,” she said.
“As such, we are casting a very wide net on our contact tracing process, resulting in the furloughing of 618 staff across the service.
“The safety and wellbeing of our staff, our patients and our community is our utmost priority, and we are doing all we can to help slow the spread of this virus.”
Several wards in Frankston Hospital have temporarily stopped admissions as a “precautionary measure” following the mass quarantining of staff.
Affected wards include the Acute Medical Surgical Unit, the Surgical Short Stay Unit and the 5GN ward, a statement from Peninsula Health confirmed.
The inpatient ward in Frankston Hospital’s paediatric department will also be temporarily closed to admissions “due to an excessive demand on workforce”.
Paediatric patients who present to Frankston Hospital’s Emergency Department for admission will instead be transported to Monash Health Service.
“We thank our local public and private hospitals and primary care providers for their support during this time,” the statement said.
“The contacting of all discharged patients that may have been determined a close contact is now complete.”
Other departments including maternity, cardiology, mental health, the Emergency Department and acute medical surgical wards will continue to accept admissions.
The health group has also been battling an outbreak at its Golf Links Road Rehabilitation Centre, where at least 17 patients had tested positive as of last week.
Premier says overall healthcare worker infections are falling
It comes a day after the Victorian Government revealed analysis of infections in healthcare workers during the second wave of the pandemic had shown 70 to 80 per cent of them contracted it at work.
In response to the findings, the Government said it would place designated “spotters” in hospitals to monitor the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), expand the use of N95 masks in hospital settings and expedite WorkCover claims from healthcare workers infected with COVID-19 on the job.
There are 434 active cases of coronavirus in healthcare workers at the moment, down from 674 on Saturday.
Premier Daniel Andrews today said the number of healthcare worker infections had stabilised and was coming down.
Contractor who worked at secure mental health hospital tests positive
Meanwhile, admissions and discharges from the Thomas Embling Hospital have been halted after a cleaning contractor who worked at the secure mental health facility on Friday, Saturday and Sunday tested positive to coronavirus.
In a statement, Forensicare CEO Margaret Grigg said the cleaner was wearing full PPE and practising physical distancing and so the risk of the virus being spread among staff or patients was assessed as low.
“Forensicare is liaising closely with the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure contact tracing and appropriate actions take place in accordance with our COVID-19 response plan,” Dr Grigg said.
“No Forensicare staff have been furloughed. The contract provider is working to support close contacts of the identified case. Three contractor staff have been furloughed.”
Dr Grigg said there was no disruption to delivery of care and treatment and all patients and staff were being given asymptomatic testing.
Other cases under investigation include a case or cases linked to Glenferrie Private Hospital in Hawthorn and Holmesglen Private Hospital in Moorabbin.