Protecting 16,000 residents of high-risk accommodation against covid outbreaks

Released on 11th February 2021

An established team of COVID rapid responders have played an essential role during recent hotel quarantine worker cases, working swiftly to identify high-risk accommodation in the vicinity of exposure sites, and mobilising services to protect the health of vulnerable residents.  

cohealth is one of the providers of the Victorian Government’s High-Risk Accommodation Response (HRAR) program.  cohealth staff work with the owners, proprietors and residents of rooming houses, community housing, supported accommodation and hostels in Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs, and the CBD. 

The team was established to provide health support, mobile COVID testing squads, COVID audits and deep cleaning to 845 high-risk, high-density accommodation properties. 

The 845 properties are deemed high-risk both because of the nature of the housing (high-density, shared facilities, single entry/exits etc.), but also because the people who live in the accommodation are often vulnerable due to age, low income, social disadvantage, language barriers and chronic health issues 

“We know how quickly infection can spread in high-density and shared accommodation, so a COVID outbreak in one of these 845 properties could be catastrophic, said Nicole Bartholomeusz, Chief Executive, cohealth. 

Within hours of the news about the CBD hotel quarantine worker we had identified 140 high-risk properties close to exposure sites, and plans were in motion to support the residents.” 

“Our workers were on the phones to the owners and proprietors and attending the properties to answer questionsconnect people to testing, provide care packs and new masks and work out who may have been in contact with the exposure site. 

These are often vulnerable people who aren’t connected with daily news and government information or may not understand the implications of a new exposure site emerging. 

“The program has been successful because we’ve spent months building relationships and earning the trust of the owners and managers of the 845 properties.” 

We have honed a system that allows us to move quickly to protect the health of disadvantaged people living in high-risk accommodation,” said Ms Bartholomeusz. 

— Ends — 

More information: Lanie Harris 0418 552 377 

More on cohealth: 

cohealth is a Victorian not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all. It provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services.  

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