Oceania Healthcare has been an early adapter of saliva testing for Coronavirus. Since August 2020 Oceania engaged in discussions with key stakeholders including DHB and Ministry about undertaking its own surveillance testing for its 2800 employees. This resulted in the development of robust policy and procedures to undertake surveillance Saliva testing through the private laboratory. The decision to do this was twofold. It formed part of the risk assessment for the health and safety of their employees, and it also relieved the burden of testing on the public system, enabling more in the community to be tested.
Since September 2020 Oceania has been rolling this out in the staff care centres.
“Being an early adapter of salvia testing through a private laboratory was a priority, it is a tool to keep staff safe in the workplace. This, in turn, keeps residents safe,” said Oceania General Manager of Nursing and Clinical Dr Frances Hughes.
“This thorough, consistent approach, using technology to keep background surveillance of employee’s COVID-19 status, has now formed part of pre-employment criteria.”
“We wanted to be able to test staff without being a burden on the community or having staff line up at community testing centres. We vigorously tested the logistics and consulted with unions as we went.“
Processes are in place should a positive test be returned as per agreed protocols with the Laboratory to appropriate authorities.
“Private laboratories have the capacity and using saliva testing of our employees with a testing regime that protects them but also protects our vulnerable residents”.
“Our employees are the gateway into residential care centres. However, through regular surveillance of their Coronavirus status, we can confidently reassure our residents and their families.
“Should a community outbreak occur, it doesn’t matter if the outbreak is in Whitianga or Auckland, the same testing is done, with results in hours rather than days. We can roll out quickly in the event of a community outbreak to increase the number of tests,” Dr Hughes concluded.
“By doing this we believe we are supporting the New Zealand current surveillance system and keeping our residents safe.”