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21 Barclay Street, Heywood, VIC, 3304

COVID AT HEYWOOD AGED CARE UNDER CONTROL

It’s the gift that keeps on giving. And while a recent COVID outbreak at the Heywood Rural Health aged care facility has kept the staff there busier than usual over the past two weeks, there are signs that it is well under control, with only mild symptoms apparent.

CEO Leigh Parker says the staff at the facility has been doing a fantastic job and all residents are being treated appropriately.

“We have a total of 40 residents here and as of this morning there are 10 who are positive,” said Mr Parker yesterday.

“The outbreak started here on Sunday 17th July and we had a number of residents who tested positive who have now gone through that seven day period of isolation and treatment.

“In the meantime, they’ve come out of that and are well again, and new resident have come onto the list, so the numbers affected are a bit of a moving target.”

Mr Parker said all the patients have been treated with appropriate anti-viral drugs and their response has been overwhelmingly good, with only mild symptoms in most cases.

Heywood Rural Health provides primary/community health, including a medical clinic; acute/urgent care (minimal), and palliative care, with 45 beds in the residential aged care facility.

The ages of residents in that facility range from their late 60s to over 80s.

Mr Parker said no-one knows how the infection came into the facility, but was discovered during the regular testing regime the staff conduct.

“The variants we’re dealing with now in the community – BA4 and BA5 – are extremely contagious, so it could have come from anywhere.

“It could have been a visitor, a staff member, or could have been a resident who’s gone out for the day,” he said.

The number of staff infected is also a “rolling number”, he said, “but at the moment we have two away who’s tested positive”.

Mr Parker praised the work of the staff at the facility, saying they have done an “amazing” job, working in full PPE (personal protection equipment) since the outbreak was announced.

“The staff is following all precautions, with the local Barwon Public Health Unit Centre staff who are very happy and impressed with all the arrangements we’ve put in place in terms of infection control.”

Heywood Rural Health has had a relatively clear run from COVID since the beginning of the pandemic, Mr Parker said, with only two single cases from the start of the pandemic up until this outbreak.

“So we’ve done very, very well in the scheme of things.

“We’ve been very, very fortunate, and that’s been through some good management and good planning and responding to the conditions at the time, but with the strains of COVID that are out there now circulating in the community is was probably inevitable, despite our best efforts in infection control, that it would eventuate.”

For any families concerned about their loved ones at Heywood Rural Health, Mr Parker encourages them to call and enquire about their well-being at any time.

“We try to keep families informed as best we can, knowing that the situation changes on a daily basis, and we also try to facilitate other means of visiting, as we have right throughout the pandemic,” Mr Parker said.

“While we’re not open to onsite visits within the building, we can facilitate visits through other means, such as via a window or electronic means like FaceTime.

“But we strongly encourage anyone who’s got a concern to ring the health service and the staff will be more than happy to help.”

Photo: Leigh Parker, Chief Executive Officer

Portland Observer article published on 29 July 2022.