Dozens of patients at a Melbourne psychiatric clinic at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak will be transferred to The Alfred hospital after authorities temporarily closed the facility.

“More than 160 COVID-19 tests have been conducted on-site in the past two days with patients, staff and doctors and one new individual has tested positive,” the statement said.
Sixteen cases have been linked to the outbreak at the Albert Road Clinic near Melbourne’s CBD, with three in hospital, including one in intensive care. The private psychiatric clinic will be closed for two weeks.
The closure comes amid details of concerns expressed prior to the outbreak by Australian Medical Association president Julian Rait to Victorian Mental Health Minister Martin Foley and Health Minister Jenny Mikakos about a “significant disparity” in standards of care in mental health facilities across the state.
He also flagged concerns about shortages in personal protective equipment including masks, gowns and gloves in mental health facilities.
“Some services appear to have been very proactive with clear, structured responses whereas others have provided less direction and less protective equipment,” Professor Rait wrote to ministers earlier this month.
All staff and doctors at the psychiatric clinic are being tested and have been advised not to work in any other clinical setting.
A psychiatrist from Albert Road Clinic tested positive to COVID-19 on March 24, however, many healthcare workers at the 80-bed facility were not informed until April 7.
Others said they only found out on Friday via media reports. An investigation into the outbreak is ongoing.
Staff, patients and their families from the private psychiatric clinic at the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak have previously told The Age they were outraged by what they described as “appalling” communication and a lack of transparency, raising concerns over Victoria’s management of future outbreaks.
Professor Rait said screening every patient admitted to hospital for coronavirus or streaming new mental health patients into isolated pre-admission wards could greatly reduce the risk of another cluster.
“The streaming of patients would mean they would be admitted to a ward for a few days, with limited contacts allowed and drug treatment as normal, until their test results came back,” he said.
“If they are going to expand testing they should also expand it so they can screen everyone coming into hospitals.”
Albert Road Clinic chief executive Jane Pickworth said the safety of patients, staff and doctors was ofparamount importance.
“We understand this is a stressful time for the patients and their families as well as our staff and doctors. We are doing everything we can to ensure your safety,” she said.
A Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said authorities were facilitating the transfer and providing advice on the discharge of other patients, including ongoing quarantine requirements once they are home.
A spokesman for Mr Foley said protecting people accessing mental health services, their carers and staff at facilities was a “central element” of the government’s public health pandemic response.
“Mental health services are continuing to deliver care in line with physical distancing and infection control requirements,” he said. “We are monitoring all services and are working closely with the mental health sector to ensure essential supports remain in place so Victorians continue to receive care during this unprecedented time.”
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