Defence personnel have been brought into a Hamilton aged care facility to help during a COVID-19 outbreak at the centre.
Five Australian Army personnel arrived at the Eventide Lutheran Retirement Homes and Hamilton Village on Monday afternoon to provide additional support to the facility's nursing staff.
There is currently 14 residents and 13 staff who have tested positive to COVID-19, but the majority aren't showing any symptoms.
The Hamilton aged care centre has been locked down but residents in the independent living units can continue to come and go.
Lutheran Church of Australia Victorian district administrator Stephen Mildred said case numbers had increased slightly since Friday.
"Whilst we've got 14 residents and 13 staff with COVID, they're all well," Mr Mildred said.
"The sickest person has a cough. All the impacted residents have commenced anti-viral oral antibiotics. We've had a very small increase since Friday. On Friday we were at 12 residents and 13 staff."
Mr Mildred said the facility became aware of a positive case at the centre when a resident's visiting relative contacted it on Thursday to notify staff they had received a positive test result.
"We followed that through and their loved one was positive and we proceeded to test the entire site," Mr Mildred said.
Subsequent testing, by RAT and PCR confirmed an increased number of cases on Friday.
Mr Mildred said further PCR testing since Friday had highlighted the additional two cases at the centre, taking the current outbreak to 14 residents and 13 staff on Monday afternoon.
He said the visiting army personnel would help with cleaning, resident communication with loved ones and other tasks which would help nursing staff continue to care for residents.
The centre has 59 residents and staff numbers are about 85 or 90 people working across various shifts across seven days.
"We got it early and an army unit arrived today," Mr Mildred said on Monday afternoon. "We've got five (army) persons and it's a help, to ensure not only the regular care but we're able to have some one-on-one contact between the residents and their loved ones at home, via a number of electronic devices.
"It's very helpful to have them available with that sort of thing and frees up our staff for the regular care."
Residents will undergo regular PCR testing every two days until the current outbreak is under control or if residents are experiencing any symptoms.
Mr Mildred said prior to the outbreak, staff were required to return a negative RAT test at the beginning of each shift and this would continue.
He said it was the highest case numbers the centre had experienced.
"This is our largest one," he said. "The others have been very small and quickly contained. The challenge this time is it's contagious and people don't really show any great signs, in terms of symptoms.
"The vaccination works well so you don't see the obvious signs of people being sick. The worst indicated ailment at the moment is someone's got a cough, which is hardly alert stations in terms of symptoms.
"Basically we've got people with COVID but they're well, which I know sounds silly. I think the fact residents have had a fourth dose about a month ago has helped (COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters)."
He said the help from the army was an option made available to the facility. The Standard understands other aged care providers in the region have also had access to army personnel for additional support during recent COVID outbreaks.
"It was an option we took on Saturday, they arrived today as scheduled, on time as you'd expect. The idea is they can help with cleaning, they can help residents contact their loved ones and it frees up our existing staff to focus on the care," he said.
"In this situation we welcome extra help, to get on the front foot. Things are relatively contained. We just follow the plan. I can advise that the public health unit this morning was very happy with what they saw. We've stemmed it basically.
"We're locked down in the aged care facility but not in the independent living units."
Families are receiving regular updates with notifications issued on Friday, Saturday and on Monday afternoon and to continue to issue as part of its COVID-19 plan.
"The first thing we do is let make sure people know what's going on and people are safe and we're looking after them well which is exactly what we're doing and is where we're at. We're quite transparent about it," Mr Mildred said.
"We find it's the best way, getting on the front foot and then if they've got questions they can ask. At the moment everything's running as it should.
"Our message for our residents' families is your loved ones are being well looked after."
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