Rocky’s TB-positive aged-care facility named

ROCKHAMPTON’S McAuley Place Residential Aged Care Facility at The Range has been identified as being the aged care home where a staff member tested positive for tuberculosis last Friday.

The confirmation of the location was received from Mercy Health and Aged Care Central Queensland, which was in charge of running the facility.

According to CQ Health Public Health director Dr Gulam Khandaker, the staff member was believed to have contracted the disease overseas.

Given that the infected staff member hadn’t been overseas recently, it was anticipated that the disease had laid dormant in their system for months or even years.

It was confirmed on Friday morning by Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service that no further cases of tuberculosis have been confirmed, though testing continued.

More than 70 close contacts underwent assessment on Monday after the worker tested positive for the infectious tuberculosis.

McAuley Place Residential Aged Care Facility
McAuley Place Residential Aged Care Facility

In a statement, Mercy Health and Aged Care’s Director of nursing Lesley Schneider said the wellbeing of its residents and staff at Mercy Health and Aged Care was its highest priority and it took the responsibility for resident care very seriously.

“Mercy Health and Aged Care acted immediately when we became aware of the diagnosis of this staff member,” Ms Schneider said.

“We personally contacted residents, their family and friends. We also notified our staff about the confirmed case, and we put in place all necessary protections as advised by Queensland Health.

“We have worked closely with all relevant authorities, including the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, who have acknowledged our proactive and rapid response.”

She was advised by the Infectious Disease Unit that the risk of transmission to residents and staff was low, and that all precautions and infection controls were in place.

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Mercy Health and Aged Care's Lesley Schneider
Mercy Health and Aged Care's Lesley Schneider

“Contact tracing has been commenced by Queensland Health, and all of the residents and staff within the impacted facility are being tested,” she said.

“The unit impacted is a single, stand-alone site supporting 29 residents therefore we are confident our precautions will be effective in containing any potential transmission.

“Mercy Health and Aged Care will continue to look after the health and wellbeing of residents and staff, provide regular and timely updates as more information becomes available.”

The impacted residents were required to undergo blood testing and chest X-rays, with testing expected to be ongoing until the window period of disease passes.

Speaking earlier this week, Dr Khandaker said the TB control unit and public health were working together to follow up all the close contacts in the facility, including residents and staff members.

CQ Health Public Health director Dr Gulam Khandaker.
CQ Health Public Health director Dr Gulam Khandaker.

“Over the weekend we have reviewed all of the residents in the aged care facility and I can confirm that none of the residents showed any symptoms of tuberculosis.

“All the 42 staff members that have been identified as close contacts, none of them are showing any symptoms.

“A screening process in terms of blood tests will be commenced within days and that will show whether anyone has contracted the disease and are currently harbouring the disease in a latent form. With those results, we will start treatment if we identify anyone with the disease.”

He said this latest TB incident was not connected to a cluster of cases in October linked to a student from North Rockhampton State High School who had returned from overseas.

With two infectious cases identified in the Rockhampton community in such a short amount of time, Dr Khandaker urged general practitioners across the Central Queensland region to consider tuberculosis as a diagnosis for patients with relevant symptoms going forward.

The symptoms of tuberculosis

  • Prolonged cough for two or three weeks or more
  • Coughing up blood
  • Any unexplained weight loss
  • Night sweats, fever and chills