Visitations dialled back
Goulburn Valley Health has greatly reduced the reasons for visitors at the hospital and Shepparton’s aged care facilities have locked down as the city’s COVID-19 outbreak continues.
At GV Health, end-of-life visits are allowed for both the hospital and aged care where a resident’s death is expected within 28 days or less.
Only two visitors will be allowed at one time.
Visits elsewhere are restricted to no more than two visitors a day, and only if they are there to provide essential care and support for people living with mental conditions or dementia; are the parent, carer or guardian of a child aged under 18 years; are a nominated person under the Mental Health Act; are there to learn to support a patient’s care upon discharge; are the partner or support person of a person in maternity care; are accompanying a patient in the emergency department; or are immediate family of a patient with a life-threatening condition.
Parents or a designated carer are able to be present around-the-clock for the above reasons.
For those giving birth, only one support person is allowed in the birthing suite and in the maternity unit for the 24 hours after the birth.
Only parents are allowed in the special care nursery, but they have access 24 hours a day.
In aged care facilities, Shepparton Villages is only allowing visitors for ‘‘end of life’’ circumstances, while at Mercy Place Shepparton and Mercy Place Ave Maria exceptions will apply for some compassionate circumstances and formal caregiving arrangements.
The aged care facilities are temporarily closed to all other visitors in an effort to keep residents and staff safe.
Shepparton Villages chief executive Veronica Jamison said the decision was made to close the door to most visitors on Friday, until further notice.
‘‘Until the situation becomes stable we will stay locked down,’’ she said.
Residents at Shepparton Villages, however, can leave for urgent reasons.
A Mercy Health spokesperson said while they understood residents and families would be disappointed, the move had been made to reduce the risk of introducing infection into the aged care homes. ‘‘We will resume visits once it is safe to do so.’’
Many staff at the hospital and aged care facilities have been furloughed after either they or family members have been at COVID-19 exposure sites across Shepparton.
As of Monday, 270 staff at GV Health had been furloughed, with more expected. To allow for the staffing changes, GV Health has temporarily ceased some of its ambulatory services, including community health and dental, to free up staff from those areas to be redeployed to critical areas such as the emergency department and other acute hospital-based services and testing.
Shepparton Villages on Monday reported about 15 per cent of its staff — about 80 out of 500 — had been furloughed. Ms Jamison said Shepparton Villages was managing staffing shortages with some staff doing extra shifts, while some administration staff — who are also nurses — had been moved into nursing roles.
On Monday night 21 staff members at Mercy Place Shepparton and 31 at Mercy Place Ave Maria were isolating at home as a precaution because of potential community exposure.
However a Mercy Health spokesperson said there had been no impact to day-to-day operations.