Covid Messages from Russell

COVID Messages from Russell – 11 August

August 11, 2020

I would like to express my support, and I am sure yours as colleagues, to all Western Health staff who have been diagnosed as COVID positive. Whether contracted in the workplace or in the community, we are thinking of you and wishing you well. These diagnoses only strengthen our resolve to do everything possible to support everyone’s safety.


We have been working hard for many months now to ensure that we had PPE guidelines to support staff in high risk areas and other areas.  I want you to be able to access the PPE required for you to safely provide care to patients and this is why we continue to follow a process where managers sign in and out for the stocks provided to them. This enables us to work out how much more stock we need to bring on site from our storage warehouse and the State Government then continues to deliver to us to meet our actual rate of consumption. As this changes, we change our orders to ensure we have enough of the PPE we are using on site to support our needs.

I want to assure you that you are entitled to have – and I want you to use – the level of PPE protection that is outlined in our guidelines. You should not need to feel rationed or restricted in your use of appropriate, safe PPE. Your manager is required to provide you with the PPE you need and we are supporting them to do this.

Please do not try to conserve an N95 mask for re-use (that is when it is required to be worn again repeatedly over a number of days). This was unfortunately the case across many parts of the world due to supply shortages but this does not apply at Western Health. Instead we are simply extending the use of N95s for a number of hours.

For any questions on acquiring PPE for your teams, please visit this link.

At Western Health, one of our most eloquent presenters on PPE is Terri Butcher, who is currently working in the COVID team. I’d encourage you all to view the link to a webinar Terri recently presented for Heads of Units.

Getting PPE Right for Staff and Patients

Experience of grief

With the high volume of care currently being provided by Western Health teams to very ill aged care residents, some of our staff are responding to a very high level of trauma and grief. I am very much aware of this and sincerely appreciate the compassion you are showing for these members of our community. Please debrief with your colleagues and seek assistance from our counselling services or through a discussion with your manager, if you require further support. I know from listening into a team handover a small part of the huge challenges you are facing.

Point Prevalence responses to potential COVID transmission

You might be aware that we are conducting point prevalence asymptomatic testing of all staff in certain areas where there have been a number of positive results for either staff or patients. The decision on whether to conduct point prevalence testing or not is based on careful analysis and evaluation. Also you should know we are always being conservative in this decision to ensure we protect the most staff always.

Stage 4 Restrictions Implications

This is a fast moving area and I am sorry that it feels like change is constant but we are moving to meet a range of requirements from both Government and Worksafe. More will follow I am sure but for now here are two important changes

Working from home or on site

Across Western Health we have many staff who have been able to continue their work effectively from home and we will continue to assess whether a higher number of staff can work effectively from home for some or part of the time. Please speak to your manager if you believe this could apply to you. Click here to read the memo

Attendance sheets -these are NOT sign-in sheets

This is another area that has been required following the changes to Stage 4 restrictions & the State of Disaster announcement, Western Health has had to develop a COVID safe plan.  These sheets are required in case Worksafe come to site we can say these re the people that were here they do not need to be signed, they simply need to be completed by someone in the team and sent to the manager. I have heard a few comments and one that is common is this is a check-up mechanism – it is not and is in no way designed as any kind of check-up on your attendance or time of leaving. The Government has asked us to simply keep a daily record of who was on that campus during that period. This supports contract tracing and all other organisations and businesses that are continuing to operate have the same requirement. Here is a link to more detail and to obtain the templates for the sheets.

A lot on our plate

I know and am very conscious that a great deal is being asked of Western Health staff at this time in the pandemic due to the concentration of many of the COVID clusters within our catchment population. We are responding to the pandemic in so many ways which are taking us above and beyond the services we would normally be required to provide to our existing heavily populated region. Whether it is testing clinics, in-reach support or accommodating the range of other needs arising across Melbourne, our resources are stretched well beyond our usual capacity. We will continue to respond as much as possible to all of these challenges.

On behalf of myself, the Board and the Community I cannot thank you enough for all you are doing.

To lighten your day, here is a lovely post about how some in our community are doing their bit to lift our spirits!




COVID-19 Daily Summary

Number of tests conducted by Western Health across all sites: 419

Number of confirmed COVID positive inpatients: 86