North Rockhampton aged care nurse cleared of wrongdoing after COVID-19 scare – better communication needed between staff and management

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A Queensland Health investigation has found the Rockhampton nurse who failed to disclose a trip after testing positive did not breach any aged care directives – but pointed to a disconnect between staff on the ground and senior management.

As we reported here four months ago, the nurse had worked at the State Government-run North Rockhampton Nursing Centre with a mild sore throat and swollen neck glands while awaiting the results of a coronavirus test.

The report says the nurse “did not contemplate” the possibility of having COVID-19 having self-isolated for 14 days after returning from an overseas trip.

“Neither the GP or pathology lab worker who took the swab advised the SO to self-isolate while awaiting the test results,” the report stated.

The investigation cleared the nurse of wrongdoing – but has called for changes to health protocols and better communication between staff and leadership.

“The subject officer telephoned the CQHHS [Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service] roster centre before attending for work and asked if the subject officer should attend work given the subject officer was waiting for a test result for COVID-19,” the report noted.

“The subject officer did not receive a response to the subject officer’s question from the roster centre.”

Queensland Health Director-General Dr John Wakefield added that changes to staffing, leave, screening and infection control procedures have been made since the May incident.

“We have taken every opportunity to apply what we have learned, including from this event, for the benefit of Queenslanders,” he added.