COVID-19 testing

Where can I get a test for COVID-19 in our region?

All GP clinics the Mount Alexander Shire are testing registered patients. If you aren’t registered with a local GP clinic, your nearest COVID-19 assessment centre is Bendigo Health. To check the criteria for testing visit the DHHS website.

Is Castlemaine Health testing for COVID-19?

Castlemaine Health is conducting limited testing for COVID-19 and prioritising testing of staff, patients and residents in accordance with DHHS guidelines.


I’m booked for an x-ray/scan, will that be happening?

Bendigo Radiology has an onsite facility at Castlemaine Health for general x-rays, CT scans, dental imaging and ultrasounds. These services are operating normally, however all visitors to the Urgent Care Centre must be temperature checked at the door and will be asked a series of health screen questions before they can enter the building.

Maternity services

I’m due to have a baby, can I birth at Castlemaine Health?

Yes, our maternity services remain fully operational. Our midwives are onsite and visiting general practitioners/obstetricians continue to be available. There are some changes to management plans so it may a good idea to call the maternity ward so one of our midwives can explain things and help you plan your experience.

Can I visit someone who has had a baby?

No, not unless you are the partner or support person. Visitor restrictions are currently in place due to COVID-19 for all areas of the hospital. For maternity services, these restrictions apply for everyone except one partner or support person who will be with the maternity patient for their entire admission. No other family or friends are permitted to visit. If you are the partner or support person, you will have your temperature checked and you’ll need to answer a series of health screen questions on arrival at the hospital. If you have signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection you will be unable to enter the birthing suite and may be asked to nominate a substitute support person.

My partner has had a baby. How long I can stay?

The current advice is that the partner or support person who arrives with the maternity patient is required to stay in the room allocated to their admission. You can stay for as long as you like, but if you leave the room you will not be able to re-enter without health screening.

Inpatient services

Is elective surgery still happening?

Urgent elective surgery is continuing at Castlemaine Health for now. Urgent surgery is:
• Surgery required to alleviate chronic and serious pain, or
• Carried out where it is determined that a person is likely be admitted to hospital in a more serious condition as a direct result of not having had surgery performed.

Is the Urgent Care Centre still open?

Yes, we are still seeing patients through our Urgent Care Centre. Patients can bring one visitor/support person with them. Visitors to the Urgent Care Centre must be temperature checked at the door and will be asked a series of health screen questions before they can enter the building

Can I visit someone in Geroe Acute or Connolly Rehabilitation?

Only if you are an essential visitor.

An essential visitor is:
• A parent, guardian or temporary carer of patient aged under 18 years
• A carer of a patient with a disability or a spouse or support person of a pregnant patient

Visitors are also permitted for end of life support or to visit the hospital for a care and support visit.

You will not be able to visit if you have:
• Returned from overseas in the last 14 days
• Been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
• Fever or symptoms of acute respiratory infection.

For all visits the following will apply:
• Maximum of one visit per patient per day
• No more than two visitors per visit who must be aged 18 years or over
• Visits limited to ten minutes only with patient (excluding time taken to enter and exit)
• No visitors who fit the criteria for self-isolation will be allowed.

Hand hygiene and the principles of social distancing will be enforced. Alcohol hand rub is available.

Infection Control

Should I be wearing a face mask?

In a hospital we might wear a mask when we’re dealing with someone who has an infection but that’s because we’re in very close proximity. Masks are useful in this current situation for someone who has tested positive to reduce the spread of droplets, but wearing a mask when out in the open, or in normal public situations is not thought to be beneficial in prevention of contracting a virus. For a mask to be effective at preventing you from catching a virus it would need to be:

· Worn appropriately (not taken on and off to talk, eat, etc)

· Worn for a period of time and then discarded. Having a cloth mask that you wear day after day and handle in between is not a good idea

· Seal the entire nose and mouth. The square surgical masks you see people wearing do not do this

· Be effective at filtering out tiny virus particles

· Be changed every few hours. The humidity of your breath makes a mask of limited use after a few hours.

Does it matter what you wash your hands with?

A: No, it doesn’t really matter what product you use, it’s the mechanical action of washing that is most important. You do need to use soap of some sort to create the sudsing that assists with removal of the micro-organisms. Washing should be vigorous and take about 20 seconds (one idea circulating at the moment is that this is about the length of time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song twice). The water doesn’t need to be hot, it’s the soap and the action that’s most important. If you don’t have access to a hand basin you can use alcoholic hand sanitiser, making sure that the amount of alcohol in the product is over 60 per cent and preferably over 70 per cent If your hands are soiled you’ll need to wash them. Alcohol-based hand sanitiser won’t kill the micro-organisms if they can’t get to your skin.

Is the way you manage infection control at hospital different at home?

The basic principles of infection control are the same but within the hospital system we have a ‘magnified’ situation. We have more people and those people have contact with multiple patients and clients every day. Within the hospital system we need to be extremely vigilant because we have patients and clients who are elderly or very young, immunocompromised or at risk for a variety of reasons. So what we do is an accelerated version of basic infection control.

Why is hand washing and wiping surfaces so important?

Washing hands is the core of infection control. If you don’t have good hand hygiene the rest can be futile, whether you’re in a hospital or at home. Viruses like influenza and COVID-19 are all spread by contact and droplets. Essentially, you pick up one of these viruses by someone coughing or sneezing on you and the droplets come in direct contact with your mucous membranes (mouth/nose/ eyes) or, by touching a surface where the virus has been transported by someone else and bringing your hands to your face where it enters through the mucous membranes.

Do I need antibacterial surface spray?

No, not in a home situation. It’s the mechanical process of cleaning that does the work. What you clean the surface with is less important. When it comes to how often a surface needs to be cleaned that’s down to what the surface is used for, what it’s exposed to and how many people have touched it. How long a virus can live on a surface varies, so frequent cleaning of surfaces you use often is best.

What else can I do?

Stick to the basics of infection control. In the current situation it is very important that you do as requested. If you’ve travelled or have been in contact with a case of COVID-19 and need to self-isolate. If you are feeling unwell, also stay home. Look after yourself, your health, your immune system and manage your stress levels. Try to live as normal a life as possible and care for your fellow human beings. Reach out and say hello. Make use of technology like FaceTime or Skype to contact an elderly relative or text a neighbour to see if they have everything they need. Be informed but choose reputable sources of information and think twice before you share unsubstantiated or sensational messages. You don’t know the impact it may have on someone who is already in a fragile state.

Adult Day Services

Are group programs and activities running?

No, our group programs, activities and outings are not currently operating due to COVID-19. We are keeping in touch with our clients by phone and sending weekly newsletters by email to help everyone feel connected. If you usually attend one of our programs or activities and are not receiving our newsletter please call the Adult Day Service on 03 5471 3566 so we can add you to the list.