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COVID transmission detected at Geraldton Health Campus, but hospital remains ‘safe’ for patients

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Authorities have confirmed community transmission of COVID has been detected at Geraldton Health Campus.
Camera IconAuthorities have confirmed community transmission of COVID has been detected at Geraldton Health Campus. Credit: Lisa Favazzo/The Geraldton Guardian

Authorities have confirmed community transmission of COVID has been detected at Geraldton’s public hospital, but health professionals say locals should not be afraid of attending the campus if unwell.

It comes after the Guardian was told a patient had tested positive to COVID after being admitted to Geraldton Health Campus. A relative of the patient claimed they did not have the virus before entering the hospital.

WA Country Health Service Mid West medical director Dr Ranjit Paul confirmed COVID transmission had occurred at the hospital, with five inpatients returning positive tests.

“In this very high COVID case-load environment, we anticipate incidents of transmission in healthcare settings. The good news is, we’re prepared for it and have a range of measures in place to detect the virus early and respond appropriately,” he said.

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The hospital is conducting regular testing of all asymptomatic inpatients to ensure the fast identification of cases and lower the risk of transmission, according to Dr Paul.

“As part of this (testing) program, I can confirm that five inpatients have returned positive results. They’re currently receiving care isolated away from the general hospital population as a protective measure,” he said.

“It’s important to be clear that staff who interact with patients — COVID positive or not — wear personal protective equipment at all times and undergo regular testing.”

Dr Paul said the presence of COVID in the hospital should not discourage people from getting the treatment they need.

“Geraldton Health Campus remains a safe place to access care — please do not delay attending the hospital if you need assistance,” he said.

Dr Paul would not confirm how the transmission occurred or where COVID patients and close contacts were isolating within the hospital.

A system-wide review of the hospital’s COVID protocols was conducted after a breach occurred during the treatment of an infected seafarer in July.

A post-incident review revealed one breach occurred after a hospital staff member entered a lift before it could be appropriately cleaned following the transfer of the COVID patient.

Delays in transferring the patient from the emergency department to the negative pressure isolation room on the inpatient ward was the cause of the other breach.

Earlier this year, WACHS principal health officer Dr Helen Van Gessel told the Guardian 330 COVID preparedness drills have been completed over the past six months at country hospitals, Geraldton Health Campus, to prevent further breaches.

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