Covid Messages from Russell

COVID Messages from Russell – 11 September

September 11, 2020


Thank you to all staff as we have had another typically hectic week here at Western Health – but I’m sure you already knew that!

Huge load on our surgical teams

One of the areas which has been experiencing extraordinary levels of increased demand is emergency surgery, with a 135% increase on typical levels.

The emergency workload is being managed on top of a busy CAT 1 elective workload so that patients continue to receive surgery for urgent matters. The emergency presentations have included a higher number of people falling over in their homes and fracturing bones.  In the last week alone we have, sadly, seen 11 patients with fractured hips, which present significant issues for our patients.

Jill Woods, our Pain Management Nurse Practitioner has also expressed concerns at the increase in presentations of fractured ribs as the result of falls at home and we have also seen an increase in falls among inpatients. So can I ask our fabulous staff to remain vigilant on this?

Other presentations that are requiring emergency surgery include stress related lifestyle conditions such as Gall bladder issues and perforated ulcers. These have also really increased during this pandemic period.

As people are staying home during the pandemic, an increase in plastic trauma presentations has also occurred and many of these are linked to people attempting home improvements.

Below are images of some of our surgical team at work at Sunshine Hospital, led by registrar Matilda Anderson.

Maternity records make it to Ch 9’s Today Program

The teams of staff in our Women’s and Children’s Division enjoyed some wonderful positive coverage this morning on Ch 9’s Today Show, with an in-depth story on the record number of births last month. The program followed up with one mum at home and another in our post natal ward. Both had so many glowing comments about the staff and their whole experience, so that’s a great tribute to you all – well done for providing Best Care to your patients. Look out for the link which will be out soon and posted on our Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages.

Appreciation for our aged care in-reach team continues

Our aged care in reach teams continue to manage an incredibly large volume of work supporting continuing and some new outbreaks across our region. I am pleased that they have also been receiving direct messages of appreciation from those who have seen them at work in the aged care facilities.

Time to take responsibility

Earlier this week in my Tuesday catch-up webinar, I focussed on the need for all staff to take responsibility for their own safety just as I also have to take responsibility as your employer.

I am troubled to have to say that I am concerned that a staff group who I thought would know better are amongst the group we are seeing most issues with. I am not going to name and shame them at this stage but will do if this does not change across breaks and lunch breaks. For those of you doing the hard yards and the right things – thank you. We are being visited by more and more compliance agencies and we are being reviewed against the standards set out to help protect health care workers.

I wanted to share an example of a troubling report I received yesterday regarding the Footscray cafeteria:

“There were 15 staff in smaller groups

  • Despite wipes present, no table wiped down on seating or departure
  • Masks worn around chin or back of neck or put onto tables
  • Shields face down on tables
  • One staff member wearing both a P2 and surgical mask around neck
  • 2 large bins present but not utilised”


We have to do better to protect ourselves, our colleagues and our patients. This is not good enough and I would like to issue a clear warning here that we are monitoring these behaviours and will not hesitate to act to stamp this out.

Also if you are asked to address a breach in a safety procedure, by any of your colleagues, please do as asked. The answer should never be ‘No thanks’.

I know you know this but… no amount of signage, hygiene stations and other supports we can provide, will make any difference if our collective behaviours do not change as we need to continue to take the simple actions necessary to protect ourselves, our colleagues and our patients.

I look forward to an immediate change in this behaviour.

Stay Safe and Thank you