Covid Messages from Russell

COVID Messages – and a little INSPIRATION!

October 16, 2020

The positive culture at Western Health has been a shining light in a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the intense preparations and response this required across our health services. The positivity and can-do attitude bursting out of our staff and teams working together across the organisation has been something to celebrate in a most challenging year. I know I am widely biased but it is my strong view that our positive culture sets us apart as an organisation, created by all of our employees and volunteers as we are all focussed on providing Best Care to our colleagues and our communities.

In October each year we would normally gather in person to celebrate Positive Workplace week. Obviously, things look a little different this year, but if there was ever a year to celebrate our people and our culture, it’s this one. So instead of having a separate week of celebrations let’s have a look – through a slightly longer than normal bulletin from me – at some of the activities that truly make Western Health a positive workplace.


Yesterday afternoon’s virtual INSPIRE Awards were an amazing celebration of the work of our employees and volunteers, individuals and teams across Western Health, who foster a positive workplace and inspire others to live our values.

You can click here to go straight to the site and view the presentation or read the information for everyone nominated.

A record number of nominations were received and it was a great pleasure to acknowledge these during the presented hosted alongside Suellen Bruce, Executive Director People, Culture and Communications.

Congratulations to all who received an Inspire Award and a special shout out to the ultimate winners of the Inspirational Stories, for their well-deserved awards:

Inspirational Story Winners:

Critical Care Outreach Team

The Critical Care Outreach Team was established in the midst of the latest COVID-19 surge by combining resources from the ICU Liaison Team, Coronary Care Nursing Team and the Anaesthetist team  in order to respond to the significant increases in clinical acuity, evidenced by increased MET calls, Code Blue and increased incidents such as falls. The Critical Care Outreach team has provided enhanced support to the ward teams 24/7 with the care of our unwell patients, supporting both a proactive management approach to prevent patient deterioration, and to provide a rapid clinical response in the event of code blues and MET calls. The feedback the Critical Care Outreach Team as a whole have received from the ward staff has been a testament to both their clinical expertise to support the deteriorating patient but also their supportive, compassionate and collaborative approach to ensure ward teams feel supported in an interdependent model.

Kirsty Barnes, Clare White and the Residential In Reach team

Under the leadership of Clare White and Kirsty Barnes, the Residential In Reach team responded to residential aged care facilities requiring support for coronavirus outbreaks in large numbers this year. With many facilities significantly effected, and many residents and staff within these facilities testing positive to the virus, the teams spent long hours in the facilities ensuring that care standards are met, infection prevention was being adhered to, educating, assessing residents, developing plans, and ensuring resident wishes were being met. Geriatricians, nurses and support staff cared for the most vulnerable patients at the majority of the 97 facilities in the Western Metropolitan region, sometimes more than 25 at one time. They truly have saved many lives and the In Reach model and the coordination that they introduced into the broken system around them was adopted by DHHS for replication across the state.

 ICU team

The Western Health Intensive Care team have absolutely shone throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  Situated within the main hotspots our ICU’s have cared for a large percent of the total number of COVID-19 positive patients across Australia. The ability of the ICU multidisciplinary team to work together to achieve the best possible outcomes for critical ill patients, both those with COVID-19 and without has been a credit to them.  From Intensivists, Intensive Care Registrars, Nurses, Physiotherapist and PSA’s, the team have worked seamlessly together to achieve these outcomes in challenging times. The ICU team also developed the ‘Iso Hood’ to protect staff and patients through the COVID-19 pandemic.  The unit is sharing this innovation across Australia and around the world, currently in the process of distributing ‘Iso Hoods’ to multiple Intensive Care Units. The outstanding outcomes for our ICU patients are largely due to the high standards of care delivered by the ICU multi-disciplinary team.

Individual – Kate Cranwell

As the COVID Response lead for Western Health, Kate has been amazing at working with diverse internal and external stakeholders to ensure that Western Health’s response has met the needs of our staff, patients, the government and the community. Kate oversaw the significant expansion of testing sites within the community, including door-to-door testing of high-rise commission flats within high risk areas. Kate has used her leadership, determination, innovation, analytical prowess and communication to ensure that a dedicated team and the wider leadership group achieved great things in meeting the needs of the West of Melbourne when it was needed most.

Chief Executive’s Positive Workplace Award:

Simone Montebello, Clinical Nurse Educator, Sunshine

Simone was suddenly seconded into the ICU RN upskill program during the COVID-19 surge preparation. She worked her heart out providing the best education to the Registered Nurses who were upskilling, and the program benefitted from her care and devotion.    Simone had an amazing input into nursing development during her time in this role. When Simone was compiling her information for the RN’s to upskill, she expressed a desire to get it right because patients were on the other end of this, and the RN’s that would be seconded into this role needed the right information. The thought of patients being on the other end of her education weighed heavily on Simone, she took her role very seriously and was incredibly productive, making multiple resources for Western Health nurses that are relevant now and will be in the future too.  Throughout all of this Simone remained respectful to her colleagues and her candidates despite the complicated and difficult process it was at times. Her focus and concern for the safety of the potential COVID patients that we may get affected her personally, which made her strive for the best in this role. ​

Exceptional Worker Care Packs

Another important part of the Positive Workplace celebrations is the Exceptional Worker Care Packs that have now been distributed across our sites.

The number of thank you notes and comments received from staff and teams for this small gesture of appreciation and recognition of your hard work and dedication is a testament to the positivity we see at Western Health each and every day. As the pack said, our staff truly are “exceptional, not just essential”.

Research and Best Care Conference

Whilst our COVID-19 response has necessitated we amend the format of the conference for 2020, we value this opportunity to highlight the adaptability of our staff and the service changes that have effectively been implemented in response to COVID-19.

The conference will comprise daily Zoom webinars that cover various Research and Best Care initiatives, challenges, insights and achievements relating to the COVID-19 pandemic from a Western Health, national and international perspective.  For details of the exciting schedule and webinar links, please access the Events section of Live Best Care site by clicking on this link.

I encourage all staff to virtually attend as many sessions as possible to celebrate the great work undertaken during unprecedented times, the adaptability of our models of care in response to COVID-19, and to learning more about our future initiatives and innovations.

Western Health Foundation’s Staff Grants Program

Applications for Western Health Foundation’s Staff Grants Program close at midnight tonight, Friday October 16. Part of Research and Best Care Week, these grants are open to all staff and are in support of professional development, research projects, or program seed funding. The grants are valued at up to $5,000 each and successful recipients will be announced at the closing of the Research and Best Care Conference on October 30.

For more information, or to submit an application see the Smartygrants page.

Walk West Virtual

This week, the Western Health Foundation has opened registrations for the WalkWest Virtual Landmarks Challenge, an exciting alternative to the live WalkWest this year.

Get a team together to join the challenge over 21 days from November 10-30, and see if you can walk the marathon distance of 42km in 21 days – the distance between Flemington Racecourse and Werribee Zoo. The Western Health Board has already entered a team as have the Executive team so I will be attempting the challenge too. You can walk the distance at home, work or in your local neighbourhood – in line with State Government COVID-19 regulations.

Find out more and register here.

Wellbeing Wednesday webinars

Last week in the Wellbeing and Support Update, we announced a weekly series of webinars starting on Wednesday 21 October and these are designed to give you some tools and knowledge to tackle challenges that are thrown up in times of increased pressure. The Wellbeing Wednesday series will run until 9 December and covers a range of topics to support you and those around you to work through a range of common situations.

I encourage you to look through the program by clicking here and tune in to any sessions that interest you.

Wellbeing Check-in  surveys

This year I decided we would not run the People Matters Survey – I thought it was just one ask too many!! But as an organisation, it’s critical that we listen and understand how our staff are feeling and continue to support you. One of the ways we are going to do this is conducting “pulse” or “check-in” surveys to understand our employees’ wellbeing. Look out for further announcements on this in the coming weeks with an opportunity for you to let us know how you are faring.

Thank you to all of you who contribute to our very positive workplace.

Thank you and stay safe