All Covid-19-positive residents of Melbournes most heavily infected aged care facility have been moved to hospital, as the state tackles 35 impacted aged care services.
Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton confirmed on Tuesday that all infected residents of the Menarock Life Essendon aged care home had been moved out of the facility into hospital, as authorities battle to bring the large outbreak under control.
Its a challenging situation with aged care. Sometimes those residents are looked after in place. If the isolation, single rooms, en suite bathrooms are available and those patients, residents, can be managed onsite, thats done, Sutton said.
In other facilities, because theres a shared bathroom or difficulties in managing the movement of residents around the facility, they will be transferred, as has been the case with Menarock aged care.
On Tuesday the Menarock Essendon cluster grew to 28 cases. Sutton said on Monday this was split reasonably evenly between staff and residents. All other residents have been tested.
In previous large aged care clusters, such as at the Newmarch House aged care home in Sydney, both the government and aged care providers were criticised for infected residents being treated at the facility, with a number even dying inside the home.
But Sutton said not all infected residents in Melbourne will be moved.
I dont think its always the case that patients in aged care, residents who test positive, need to be transferred. Sometimes the safest place for them is to remain in that facility, but well always make a consideration and it will be a clinical judgment of the treating doctor for those patients, he said.
Where we think theres a risk of transmission within that facility, we will make a strong recommendation for those patients to move out to an acute health setting but its really done on a case-by-case basis.
He said that some hospitals were making preparations for an influx of infected aged care residents, with the Royal Melbourne setting up a specialty ward to treat them.
All tertiary care hospitals will be looking at their surge, hospitals beds and intensive care capacity to manage that, he said.
Pat Sparrow, chief executive of Aged and Community Services Australia, which represents non-profit aged care homes told the ABC that all coronavirus-positive residents should be moved to hospital immediately.
The Victorian governments position is assessment on a case-by-case basis. Only the South Australian government has said they will automatically transfer patients who are positive into other settings, she said.
Thats something were hoping to see other governments do.
Menarock Essendon is the largest aged care cluster in the state, followed closely by the Glendale Aged Care cluster in Werribee with at least 13 cases. The ABC has reported that 90-year-old resident of Glendale Aged Care, Alf Jordan, died after being diagnosed with Covid-19 on 10 July.
On Monday federal health minister, Greg Hunt, said Victoria now had at least 35 aged care facilities or at-home aged care services impacted.
Its unclear if all 35 facilities contain active cases. It is understood that a number of aged care clusters have involved only staff.
In recent weeks the department has confirmed cases among staff in the following facilities in Victoria:
- BaptCares The Orchards Community in Doncaster 9 July
- Benetas St Georges in Altona Meadows 9 July
- BlueCross Ivanhoe 9 July
- Aurrum Aged Care facility in Healesville 9 July
- Holmwood Aged Care facility in Healesville 9 July
- Doutta Galla, Lynchs Bridge site in Kensington 8 July
- Uniting AgeWell facility in Preston 8 July
- Mercy Health at home aged care service 8 July
- Assisi Aged Care facility in Rosanna 7 July
Not all staff were infectious during their time at the facility.
There were also cases detected among residents in the following facilities in recent weeks:
- Japara Central Park Aged Care in Windsor 13 July
- Lifeview Willow Wood in Cranbourne 20 June
- Royal Freemasons Springtime in Sydenham- 20 June
- Rosstown community aged care facility in Carnegie 17 June
At least 10 hospitals or health care centres have also been impacted by small outbreaks.
On Monday Hunt mandated all aged care staff who work in residential facilities or provide home care support across Victorias lockdown zones wear masks while on duty.
Sutton said 26 Victorians were now in intensive care, an increase of nine from Monday.
[Its] a matter of the fact that were going into a phase where a lot of our current cases will be deteriorating. Twenty-one of those patients are on ventilators, he said.
There are currently 81 patients in hospital, an increase of 13 since Monday.