Fronditha Care, a not-for-profit aged care provider caring predominantly for Greeks across Melbourne, is currently in a heightened state of vigilance after a staff member from its residential aged care facility in St Albans (THALPORI) tested positive to COVID-19 on Wednesday, 22 July.

After receiving the positive test result, Fronditha Care said it enacted its outbreak management plan in a statement sent to the press. The COVID-19 positive staff member last worked on 20 July and wore a mask for the duration of their shift. Staff members who worked with the affected staff member on the day were immediately stood down and all residents were isolated and closely monitored for any symptoms. At all times the resident’s needs, choices and preferences are considered first and we continue to work hard to maintain high quality care.

COVID-19 Testing

With the support of Department of Health and Human Services the Public Health Unit (PHU) was on site at THALPORI on Saturday and tested all staff and residents. The above information was shared with all resident representatives and other stakeholders.

The current situation is as follows:
• 59 residents tested negative and 1 tested positive. Please note the resident who tested positive was transferred to hospital for further monitoring.
• 65 staff tested negative and 1 result still pending.

As a result, Fronditha Care is in the process of continuing with its outbreak management processes which include the full lockdown of the THALPORI facility and ongoing testing of residents and staff.

READ MORE: Fronditha tightens lockdown rules to protect clients against COVID-19

Staff members at THALPORI are continuing to communicate with residents and their representatives as necessary to keep them informed.

Families are encouraged to stay connected with their family members through the communication options available. I am happy to report additional devices have been purchased to meet this demand. We have also increased staffing levels to assist with this communication and to ensure our residents have increased support.

According to a relative statement by Fronditha, the following infection control procedures are in place:

• Deep cleaning is being done on an ongoing basis.
• Residents are isolated in their rooms
• Appropriate waste malmanagement for infectious waste
• Appropriate PPE
• Doffing and Donning designated areas.
• All staff wearing PPE

COVID-19 Testing Mandatory for Staff

On Monday 27 July, Fronditha Care implemented an organisation-wide policy requiring COVID-19 testing for all residential aged care staff, whilst Victoria is under the current State of Emergency enacted by the Victorian Health Minister until 16/8/2020. Mobile COVID-19 testing units will visit Fronditha Care sites in Clayton, Thornbury, Templestowe and Newcastle to undertake this.

READ MORE: My Life in Lockdown: Fronditha Care CEO Michael Malakonas

Staff Working From Only One Site

From Monday 27 July, to reduce the chances of aged care employees working across different employers and potentially picking up the virus and carrying it to other aged care workplaces, the Commonwealth Government requires aged care workers only work at one site; this directive is to be implemented as soon as possible and will initially be for a fixed term of 8 weeks from Monday 27 July through to 25 September.

Fronditha Care CEO Michael Malakonas, stated, “I want to thank all of you who have shown my staff an incredible amount of support since the onset of the pandemic. Your feedback and support at this time is both encouraged and appreciated. The current period is a fluid one with rules and regulations changing in response to the spread of COVID-19 in the community. We understand many of you have questions and we encourage you to speak to us and let us know what your concerns are and how we can work together to keep our elders, aged care workers and our broader community safe. We are all in this together.”