Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child has renewed her appeal for people with even mild flu-like symptoms to get tested, encouraging everyone to “hang in there while numbers are driven lower.

PENINSULA Health, the organisation which operates the Frankston Hospital, Rosebud Hospital, Golf Links Road Rehab Centre and several aged care facilities has always been a good friend of Bass Coast Health.

More than once, they’ve helped us out of a tight spot with expert advice and support, and desperately needed medical and nursing personnel.

It stands to reason.

Jan Child, the former director of Aged Care at Peninsula Health, held many key roles there before coming to Bass Coast Health as its new CEO in 2017.

But right now, they’ve had to show their good friends at Peninsula Health some tough love in order to protect this area from the coronavirus outbreak that was threatening to consume the Frankston Hospital and one or two of its subsidiaries last week.

There are now 44 active COVID-19 cases in Peninsula Health staff members, down from 51 cases the previous week.

Ms Child’s opposite number at Peninsula Health, Felicity Topp, told the ABC this week that the organisation had been working with a team of infection prevention experts to undertake a review of their COVID-19 practices following the Frankston Hospital outbreak.

“We have further strengthened our infection prevention measures, including the extension of our contact tracing of both staff and patients,” she said.

“As such, we are casting a very wide net on our contact tracing process, resulting in the furloughing of 618 staff across the service.

“The safety and wellbeing of our staff, our patients and our community is our utmost priority, and we are doing all we can to help slow the spread of this virus.”

Bass Coast Health’s CEO is well aware of the issues being faced by her colleagues at Peninsula Health and the fact that there are still 434 health care workers in the state with active coronavirus.

“Yes, we have strong connections with Peninsula Health, Monash Health and Alfred Health. Some nurses but mostly medical specialists,” said Ms Child this week.

“We have about 15 regular PH staff who work with us. All of those have been swabbed and screened and whilst we have been awaiting results, we have not rostered them.

“None of our regulars have tested positive and some were furloughed whilst awaiting test results, but none have been isolated because they are positive.”

Ms Child said Bass Coast was already very strict about screening and the use of PPE but recent data across Victoria shows that health care worker infections are rising, and more are occurring in the workplace which she said has been concerning.

“So, we have been blessed to receive more face shields from Matt Bowtell to ensure all staff, including non-clinical staff are wearing this extra layer of PPE.

We have maintained people working from home wherever possible, we have maintained strong visitor restrictions, we have pushed through more training on PPE and SIMs on high risk presentations, including intubation which is the highest risk.

“Despite staffing shortfalls and fatigue, we have maintained segregation of respiratory and non-respiratory patients.

“We have had support from a number of local businesses (coordinated by Brett Tessari) to create a visitation pod for Wonthaggi hospital to help connect patients.

“We continue to review the daily advice from the Commonwealth and the State and implement changes. Our biggest focus is on keeping our staff and patients safe.”

The community, she said, can really help.

“My wish is that people continue to get tested. This has slowed down, and we need to keep proactively managing the community transmission.

“My other hope is that people can hang in there. I am extremely confident that the strategy from this government has helped avert a local health care crisis thus far and while I know everyone is over it, all of us at BCH included, we haven’t had any local COVID deaths and, as such, our lockdown is a small price to pay.”