Doutta Galla COVID-19

Dear Residents, Families and Friends,

Over the past week, the Footscray Home has continued to stabilise with many of the Doutta Galla Footscray staff returning to work.  We have also seen the gradual return of residents from hospital and very sadly some of our residents both with and without COVID-19 have passed away.  We share the grief with families who have lost their loved ones and with our residents we share the loss of their friends from our Home.  Losing a loved one is never easy and loss in this period is further heightened by the constraints placed on all of us by COVID-19.  Please know that our residents who have passed away and their families are in our thoughts and prayers and we will miss them.

As part of our ongoing clinical care of residents, Doutta Galla has had ‘positive’ residents retested to ascertain their COVID-19 status.  In the last rounds of testing, no more staff have tested positive and pleasingly, of the residents who have agreed to be re-tested, 14 residents have recovered.  We anticipate that there are many more who will be able to be cleared of the virus in the next few days.  We will provide an update on this as soon as we have something to report.

I understand that communication during this time is so important.  As some families in particular have expressed a preference for communication directly from the Home (as the information that is being sought is more of a personal and individual nature), you will notice that we have increased the contact from the Home and decreased the general CEO updates.  Notwithstanding this, I will send out emails when we have new information to share.

Starting from Monday 31 August 2020, Carlo Rizzi will be managing our Footscray Home as Talya Goldsmith has been appointed as the permanent Manager at Yarraville Village Home.  This has been an important decision for Doutta Galla as we manage the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak at two of our Homes.  We would like to thank Talya for her commitment to the residents and families at Footscray over the past 8 months.  To further support Carlo, Karen McDonald will continue to provide operational management at the Home as will Footscray’s senior nurse clinicians who are now all back at work.

Our Footscray home has been through an extremely difficult time.  It is now important for us to begin the process of recovery.  We have already started what we are calling the ‘recovery and repatriation’ process.  This means we have begun moving residents back to their rooms and are ensuring the rooms are ready for when residents currently in hospital return to the Home.  During this time the Home has been fully cleaned a number of times and some of the communal room furniture is being returned.

As previously advised, we are continuing to seek clarification from the relevant government departments about the criteria that would give Footscray a COVID-19 clearance for the residents and staff.  One of which is that the virus has ceased its spread, i.e. no new ‘positive’ results are detected for residents or staff.  The most recent round of testing had shown no new resident or staff testing positive to COVID-19.  As this is an evolving situation, recent advice from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Public Health Unit (PHU) is that there has been a change to the testing regime for residents and there is no longer a requirement to test residents who have had a positive COVID-19 result.

The PHU have also advised that if after the passing of 14 days, a person is symptom free, they may be considered to be non-infectious and therefore clear of COVID-19.  We understand that the PHU or its delegate, will issue individual resident clearances at the appropriate time (without the need for further testing).  We are pursuing further advice on this as we consider that residents and their families would likely prefer additional assurance by having a combination of a COVID-19 test result and a PHU clearance.

Our focus remains on strengthening the health and wellbeing of the residents who have all experienced some impact during this time.  As previously advised, we are encouraging residents to eat and drink more.  We will continue to provide our residents with opportunities to connect with family and friends via the telephone, video conferencing and window visits.

Since I last wrote to you, we have been overwhelmed with cards, flowers and well wishes, especially from the local community.  These have been very much appreciated.

If you or your family would like more support during this difficult time, please reach out to OPAN (Older Persons Advisory Network) on 1800 237 981.  They are available 6am-10pm, 7 days a week.  The other organisation that can assist you is Elder Rights Advocacy Victoria who can be reached on 1800 171 866 for support and advice.

We will let you know as soon as possible if there is a change in your or your family member’s health status.  Please call us on 9687 6744 if you have an enquiry or concern about your family member.  The email address for written questions or concerns is covid19questions@dgas.org.au.

Thankyou once again for your support during this challenging time.

Yours sincerely,

Vanda Iaconese
CEO