The aged care sector in the New South Wales Hunter region is on a knife-edge after two workers at two different facilities in Newcastle tested positive to COVID-19.
- Sixty-two residents at Masonic Village Edgeworth were potentially in contact with an infected staff member
- Seventeen at HammondCare Waratah were potentially exposed
- A third worker has also tested positive, but did not work while infectious
A male staff member at the Masonic Village in Edgeworth worked shifts on Tuesday and Wednesday, before becoming unwell and getting tested on Saturday and receiving a positive result on Monday.
The worker had had one dose of the Pfizer vaccine and was due for his second dose on Sunday.
Sixty-two aged care residents are now in lockdown and awaiting COVID-19 test results after potentially coming into contact with the worker.
Frank Price, the CEO of RFBI which manages the facility, told the ABC all the residents were fully vaccinated apart from three who had declined the vaccine.
“Obviously the danger is high, however the difference between our situation and that of the one in Sydney is that all of our residents [who want to be vaccinated] are vaccinated,” he said.
Meanwhile, 33 staff at the facility are also in isolation.
Mr Price said it was concerning that only 38 per cent of his employees are vaccinated, but said gaining access to the vaccine had been “a real struggle”.
“They should have been vaccinated at the same time as the residents were back in March-April,” he said.
“Staff were told that they would have to access it themselves, but the issue with that was they were in the same queue as everyone else.”
Second worker unvaccinated
Another Newcastle aged care worker was yesterday also revealed to have worked while infectious last week, this time at HammondCare’s Tinonee Gardens facility in Waratah.
In a statement, HammondCare said 17 residents across two cottages are in full lockdown and awaiting test results.
All are fully vaccinated except three people who had declined the vaccine.
“While we are doing all we can for the residents, our thoughts are also with the staff member who is passionate about resident care and distressed about what has taken place,” said HammondCare CEO and former NSW premier Mike Baird.
A HammondCare spokesman said the infected worker was unvaccinated.
He said getting all workers vaccinated had been a challenge, but they were confident in reaching the milestone by the federal government’s September 17 deadline.
‘Bullet dodged’ in third case
A third aged care worker at the Maroba centre in Waratah tested positive to the virus on the weekend but had not been at work while infectious.
Maroba CEO Viv Allanson said they had “dodged a bullet”, but had initiated emergency plans and a strict lockdown as a precaution.
She said the staff member had had one vaccine shot.
“As in the vaccination of our residents, 90 per cent are fully vaccinated, six per cent are new residents and have only had one vaccine, and probably four per cent have refused.”
The Commonwealth vaccine hub at the Raymond Terrace Respiratory Clinic on Monday night opened a three-hour vaccination window exclusively for aged care workers in order to improve rates in the sector.
Newcastle and Lake Macquarie recorded 13 new COVID-19 cases in the reporting period to 8:00pm Monday, more than double the previous day’s total of six.
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