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Temporary move for some aged care residents despite negative tests

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service will move some residents from one of its aged care facilities to a private hospital to allow remaining residents to better quarantine in place.

The decision comes despite 193 tests from residents and staff from the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre all returning negative results. All 114 residents tested have returned negative results.

The facility remains in lockdown following a nurse testing positive to COVID-19 on Thursday night.

Queensland Health mobilised a rapid response team, comprising the local public health unit and experts from Brisbane, to manage the case and help contain the virus.

From today, 35 of the facility’s less frail residents will be moved from one of its three wings to the Mater and Hillcrest hospitals in Rockhampton. Other facilities that allow for the best possible quarantining of all residents may also be used if required.

The move allows the residents of Ivy Baker wing to be housed in appropriate isolation. Planning has been progressing with QAS since yesterday.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the Hospital and Health Service’s decision to move the residents on a temporary basis was smart, safe and sensitive to resident’s needs.

"The system has prepared for this, our staff are prepared for this and Central Queensland has planned for this," Dr Young said.

"Safety of every single one of our aged care residents is our top priority.

"Taking this decision today will maximise our chance of ensuring there’s no spread of COVID-19 inside the facility."

"I’d like to commend the team in Rockhampton for how responsive and responsible they’ve been."

Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service chief executive Steve Williamson said staff had spent the morning speaking with residents and their families to fully advise them of the situation.

"This is a temporary move that ensure the best possible long-term care," Mr Williamson said.

"I’d like to thank our staff and the team at Mater Rockhampton for how well they’ve worked together to ensure this can happen.

"But most of all, I’d like to thank our residents and their families who have been tremendously gracious and understanding.

"We are not moving these residents because they are unwell – we are moving them to better help keep all of the residents well."

Mr Williamson said since Thursday night, action undertaken in the facility and by the HHS included:

  • The facility was locked down and a local disaster management plan enacted.
  • The primary case - an enrolled nurse – was isolated.
  • Rapid response support including a senior public health medical officer was flown to the facility.
  • Interview and contact tracing with testing and quarantining of contacts was completed
  • An extensive communications plan including communication with residents and relatives was enacted
  • Current fever clinic capacity and local community messaging about the need for testing were expanded. A second fever clinic in Rockhampton will be operational on Sunday.

Queensland Deputy Premier and Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Steven Miles has also requested Queensland Health send senior executives to all state-managed aged-care facilities to assess their level of pandemic management and preparedness.

Last updated: 17 May 2020