Anglicare has confirmed one of its aged care residents has been identified as a close contact of a nurse who has tested positive for coronavirus.
- A nurse transported a person with COVID–19 who had arrived from the US
- The nurse also transported an aged care resident
- The NSW Government says the people doing the two jobs are meant to be separate
The nurse is a patient transport worker for HealthShare and transported the aged care resident of Anglicare’s Brian King Gardens home at Castle Hill while they were potentially infectious.
NSW Health confirmed the nurse also transported a symptomatic family returning from the United States into hotel quarantine on December 14.
Genomic testing has shown the nurse, and a co-worker who also tested positive, caught the virus as a result of community transmission from the Avalon cluster, and not as a result of contact with returned travellers.
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the state’s patient transfer staff had been separated into two distinct groups to ensure those people transferring travellers into hotel quarantine did not have contact with other groups of vulnerable patients.
Dr Chant said that system broke down but has since been reinstated.
“There is total separation of crew,” she said.
“That policy was in place; for a period of time that reverted [and] we are still investigating the nature of why it reverted.
“There will be times where infectious patients are transported in our ambulances and we thoroughly clean them and have a process for making sure that the next patient is safe.”
Resident put into isolation
Anglicare said full infection controls were implemented at the facility and the resident was put into isolation.
The resident has so far tested negative for COVID–19.
A spokeswoman for HealthShare said all patient transfer crews had their temperature taken and were screened for symptoms at the beginning of every shift.
“Both workers stopped working and self-isolated the moment they first experienced symptoms,” the company said in a statement.
“HealthShare acknowledges that staff should not transport or be in proximity with vulnerable groups, including residents in aged care facilities, if they also work in settings where they come into contact with people who are at higher risk of having COVID–19.
Premier says ‘mistakes will occur’
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she had been told about the incident but, by then, it had been dealt with.
“Any time there’s an operational matter where things could have been done better, policies are adjusted or in fact reverted back to what the original was,” she said.
“But we also have to assume, with all due respect, that when you have thousands and thousands of people working to keep all of us safe, sometimes mistakes will occur, sometimes unintentional decisions will be made lower down — lower down operationally — which shouldn’t be made for a temporary period, but the system is in place there to make sure that I believe we have one of the strongest systems in the planet.
“But mistakes will continue to be made and I can’t pretend that isn’t going to happen.”