This week we very much find ourselves here at Western Health in the midst of the current major focus on the localised COVID-19 outbreaks. As part of this development, we have introduced two new key strategies in the last 48 hours. These are time limited and apply at present while we are in this new and changing environment. The measures will be reviewed on an ongoing basis with DHHS and our own COVID team.
Visitors and Outpatients
We have addressed matters relating to visitors by bringing in new restrictions and arrangements – these are clearly outlined in the two guides on Visitation to Western Health that have been updated and published today 2 July under V in the Quick Reference Guides.
We have introduced provision and reinforcement of the wearing of surgical masks by all visitors to our sites and by all patients attending for appointments.
Our Acting Executive Director Operations, Lebe Malkoun, addressed these matters in the Operations Bulletin – 1 July.
As of 6.15pm Wednesday 1 July, I directed that all Western Health staff at Sunshine Hospital, (including Joan Kirner) and Footscray Hospital, are to wear Tier 1 PPE – surgical masks plus face shield or correct eye protection, in all general areas.
This directive applies to clinical staff and non-clinical staff in all areas of the hospitals, not just clinical areas (unless the risk in your area or work requires you to use a higher Tier of PPE).
Many of you will not have worn PPE before and will no doubt experience some uncertainty as you adjust to it, but I urge you to review the detailed PPE-Tier 1 Guidance for Staff FAQs document now published under P in the Quick Reference Guides Read the information and give yourself a chance to become more familiar with using masks and shields.
This directive is for two key reasons:
- Source control – This is about reducing the risk from someone who does not have symptoms but may be infected and contagious. If the asymptomatic but infectious person is wearing a mask, this reduces the risk significantly among all of us who are staff colleagues and also for our patients and visitors. Staff can also be an infectious risk from their personal lives in their communities and this is a reason we have moved to Tier 1 PPE to protect each other from our colleagues and ourselves.
- Protects you from others – if you are wearing a surgical mask and shield or correct eye protection, this will help protect you from contracting COVID-19 from another person, whether it is a staff member or a patient or visitor.
Physical distancing must still be practised at all times where practicable and hand hygiene remains a critically important measure.
Thank you for your continued support in these fast changing times