Queensland Health has announced the terms of reference for an independent inquiry into a suspended Rockhampton aged care nurse.
Queensland Health has announced the terms of reference for an independent inquiry into a suspended Rockhampton aged care nurse.

The next steps facing besieged nurse who had coronavirus

AN independent investigation into a suspended Rockhampton aged care nurse will scrutinise the state-run nursing home where she worked to determine if any workplace issues contributed to her returning to the facility while awaiting coronavirus test results.

Queensland Health on Friday night released the terms of reference for the investigation into the enrolled nurse whose positive test on May 14 forced the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre into lockdown.

North Rockhampton Nursing Centre in Rockhampton. Photo: Levi Appleton, AAP
North Rockhampton Nursing Centre in Rockhampton. Photo: Levi Appleton, AAP

The nurse has triggered a storm of controversy this week after it was revealed she ignored restrictions on non-essential travel and drove to Blackwater, in Central Queensland.

Although she has told contact tracers she did not interact with anybody in Blackwater, they are trying to determine whether local coal miner Nathan Turner, who was found dead at his home on Tuesday, could have somehow acquired COVID-19 through her visit to the town.

Mr Turner was tested as being positive to the novel coronavirus after his death.

The 30-year-old, who had other medical issues, is the only known case of COVID-19 so far detected in the mining town.

Although public health inquiries are continuing into the nurse's Blackwater visit, the independent investigation will concentrate on events between May 3 and May 18 when she worked at the nursing home while experiencing respiratory symptoms and awaiting coronavirus test results.

"The investigators will develop a factual sequence of key events spanning when the nurse first developed symptoms to when she was suspended from work," a Queensland Health spokesman said.

"Any allegations of corrupt conduct and misconduct will be investigated."

The external investigation will assess whether the nurse failed to comply with legislation including the Crime and Corruption Act, the Public Health Act, the Criminal Code Act and the Work Health and Safety Act.

It will also evaluate the response of the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service.

The investigation report is due to be released in early July.

Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles. Photo: Annette Dew.
Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles. Photo: Annette Dew.

Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles said a fortnight had passed since the nurse's positive test, the incubation period for the new virus.

"In that time, we've performed 1500 tests on Rockhampton locals. All of them have come back negative," Mr Miles said. "The investigation is underway but it is great news that we can declare that that outbreak is over with just that one case, quite an incredible outcome."

Originally published as What happens next to besieged aged care nurse



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