The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) is implementing Rapid Antigen Testing for all parents and carers visiting their child. The safety and care of our patients, families and staff remains our top priority and as such, with the support of the Department of Health, we will be implementing this process as a matter of priority.
All parents and carers attending the hospital will be required to undertake a COVID-19 rapid antigen test and test negative before entering the hospital. This is always in addition to undertaking the current health screening questionnaire and wearing a mask.
The use of rapid antigen tests at the RCH will be modelled on the trial currently underway at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and as part of the Victorian Government’s plan to purchase almost 2.2 million rapid antigen tests for Victoria’s health system.
Rapid antigen testing offers a 15-to-20-minute result turnaround at the point of testing and this quick result can reduce the likelihood of a COVID-19 positive individual entering our hospital. Any positive result will require a follow up PCR test.
While the addition of rapid antigen tests is a positive step forward for the RCH, there are things we can all do to keep each other safe, including getting vaccinated, staying home if you are unwell and getting tested immediately if you have any symptoms of COVID-19.
Quotes attributable to Bernadette McDonald, CEO
“We’ve done everything we can to keep each other safe – we’ve introduced visitor restrictions even before it was a CHO Direction and have been more stringent than those Directions throughout the pandemic. We have implemented staff and visitor screening and attestation and have required families and staff to follow our strict infection control procedures.
“The RCH has always tried to strike a balance between the specific care needs and vulnerabilities of our patients and the continued safety of our patients, families and staff. We now have almost 50 patients who have been exposed across five wards at the RCH in the past fortnight. This includes our most seriously ill patients in our neonatal intensive care unit, our ICU and our oncology ward. These exposures have meant a significant number of patients and families across the hospital have been in isolation in their rooms for 14 days – unable to leave – primarily from exposure to positive parents and carers.
“With COVID-19 so active in the community, exposures at hospitals is in an unfortunate inevitability. Rapid antigen testing will not remove the risk, but it will significantly strengthen our controls. This additional monitoring of parents and carers is necessary to continue to protect our patients, families and staff.”