Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 November 2022) . . Page.. 3695 ..
COVID-19 pandemic—hospital patient transmission
MS CASTLEY: My question is to the health minister. On 10 November, a reporter from Croakey Health Media tweeted that there was a COVID-positive patient in a four-bed ward with three other older, post-operative patients. After six hours of the other patients raising concerns, the COVID-positive patient was moved from the ward.
The Canberra Times has also reported that numbers were not reported for COVID between 7 and 13 November due to technical issues. Why are COVID patients being placed in the same ward as older, post-surgery patients?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Castley for the question. It is not clear from what she has said that a known COVID-positive patient was, in fact, placed on a ward with other patients. What we find is, because people are COVID tested when they come into hospital, sometimes it is discovered that somebody has COVID-19 after they have already been admitted to hospital and they have already been placed on a ward.
I will take on notice, if I can provide some further detail for Ms Castley in relation to the whole process of what occurs when it is identified that people have COVID-19. We have, quite some time ago, made a change in the management of people with COVID-19 to enable people who have COVID-19 to be supported on a home ward, rather than having only specific COVID-19 wards. Generally speaking, however, people are cohorted on those home wards that are more appropriate to their underlying health condition, if they are not there because of COVID-19. I will come back to the chamber and Ms Castley with some further detail on exactly how all of that is managed. Of course, I am not going to be able to comment on an individual case.
MS CASTLEY: Minister, how many COVID-19 transmissions have occurred in the hospital in November?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I will take that question on notice. I know there have been some. In the whole-of-staff email the CEO of Canberra Health Services sent out on Monday, he identified that, as of midnight on Thursday, there were 62 patients with COVID-19 across our public hospital system; so they had started to be able to gather that data again, and there had been some transmissions across the system. If I can find that detail, I will provide that at the end of question time—but that will not be for the whole of November, so I will take that on notice.
MR COCKS: Minister, what do you say to Canberrans whose vulnerable family members have been exposed to COVID in your facilities?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: It is always distressing, and it is very difficult when there are cases of transmission of COVID-19 in hospital. Our health services have done a remarkable job of reducing that transmission, and incredibly good infection prevention and control measures have been put in place. Unfortunately, as I indicated earlier, people do sometimes turn up at hospital and need urgent treatment for things that are not COVID-19 and it is subsequently determined, following a test, that they are COVID positive.