Bendigo Health will lead an aged care rapid response team in the event of further COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care facilities across the Loddon Mallee region.
The team will provide infection control advice, workforce support and rapid COVID-19 testing to around 60 public and private residential care facilities in the region.
Four private aged care facilities in the region have has recent outbreaks and many more centres in Melbourne have been impacted by the virus.
Bendigo Health board chair Bob Cameron said the private sector in aged care, regulated by the Federal Government, recognised that more help was required.
"The federal and state governments are working together to make sure there can be a quick response when there are issues in any private nursing home," he said.
“Now if there is any outbreak in a private nursing home, Bendigo Health will be notified immediately so our infection control people can give them immediate advice, assistance and steps to be taken to prevent the spread as much as possible."
Chief Nursing and Midwifery officer David Rosaia said the infection control and personal protective equipment advice provided by Bendigo Health’s team was crucial in containing outbreaks quickly.
Mr Rosaia said the rapid COVID-19 testing element of the team was transferrable across industries, and had previously been deployed to assist with recent outbreaks in meatworks facilities in the region.
"The team is activated quickly and can be sent within 12 hours," he said.
"At Hazeldene's, we did 300 swabs in six hours, with 12 staff."
The new team is looking to develop a pool of staff capable of replacing an existing aged care workforce, should a group of staff in a facility contract COVID-19.
The type of staff available would depend on the size of the outbreak, according to Mr Rosaia, who said agency staff could be considered once they cleared strict screening criteria.
"We are working as a hub to explore what resources we have in the region, not just at Bendigo Health, but region wide," he said.