Covid Messages from Russell

COVID Messages from Russell – 30 April

April 30, 2020

Voluntary testing of asymptomatic healthcare workers

The Victorian Government has announced that its testing blitz will now include asymptomatic healthcare workers who wish to be tested.

All asymptomatic healthcare workers (medical, nursing, administration and others) are encouraged to be tested. This is not mandatory but will contribute to gaining a better understanding of the prevalence of the disease across Victoria and support upcoming decisions on lifting the restrictions.

I would encourage you to take up this opportunity as it will be an invaluable way of supporting our statewide approach and helping in decision making regarding the lifting of restrictions.

There will be an opportunity for asymptomatic staff to be tested at Footscray, Williamstown and Sunshine from Monday and details on locations will be provided as soon as these are confirmed.

Update regarding recent exposure to COVID positive patient

Many of you will have seen continuing media coverage regarding the patient who required emergency surgery late last week at Sunshine Hospital and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. The safety and wellbeing of our staff is our top priority and a total of 24 of our colleagues are in self-quarantine as a precaution.

I can confirm that at this time, none of those staff have tested positive for COVID and there is no ongoing risk to staff, patients or visitors as a result of this exposure.  Thank you to those staff who did a great job in providing the best care for this patient, like all staff do each and every day,  and recognising the change in his condition from asymptomatic to symptomatic.

Our Head of Infectious Diseases, Dr Marion Kainer, was interviewed this morning on ABC Radio in relation to this matter. You can listen from about the 12 minute mark, via this link.

Here is a brief extract:

“The biggest danger for our healthcare service is the unrecognised patients or staff members. Ensuring that we screen people for any symptoms at admission, then continuing to screen them afterwards is very important to check on incubation. Our staff absolutely are shining, because they picked the patient up really rapidly. As soon as they had the mildest symptoms of a cough, they quickly thought about the possibility of this being COVID-19. Got the patient tested.. and the appropriate precautions were taken to keep our staff safe.”

Coverage of the excellent work of our teams

It was fantastic to see more great coverage of the work being done by Western Health’s teams during our response to the pandemic, including a feature article in The Age today about the training of turning teams for patients in ICU.

“Medical staff hope turning patients onto their stomachs into a prone position can help get more oxygen get into their lungs – and could be the difference between life and death.

“It has proven successful overseas, now teams of physiotherapists and other medical workers have been formed to flip coronavirus patients in Australian hospitals as part of planning for a potential escalation of the pandemic.

“A roster has been established for Sunshine and Footscray hospitals in the expectation they could see more patients with severe lung injury, with staff ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice.”

This is the action shot from when The Age photographer was capturing the technique:

And here is a snapshot from the published article:

Here is a link to the article,  which you may be able to access.

Messages of appreciation from the broader  community

The messages of support for you – our staff – continue to come in to the site we set up for our community. The It’s Up to Us – Unite. Support. Be Kind campaign has been set up by Western Health to help people in the western suburbs support the fight against Coronavirus.

Aboriginal Health at Western Health during COVID-19

Coronavirus has the potential to have a significant effect upon Aboriginal people, their families and communities. Our staff in this unit are doing a great job at providing information and reassurance to our communities and I thank them for this.

It is essential that Aboriginal people continue to receive ongoing services where possible throughout the pandemic period.

DHHS have developed information to provide mainstream services with guidance to support the continued delivery of essential frontline services to Aboriginal people, via safe and alternative means which support the most vulnerable members of the community.

For more information on this and other  Aboriginal Health related COVID-19 QRG’s, search under ‘A’ in the quick reference guides section on the microsite or contact the Wilim Berrbang unit via phone (ext. 50951) or at

Providing support for our region’s GPs

Thank you to Dr Marion Kainer, our Head of Infectious Diseases, Dr Paul Eleftheriou, our Chief Medical Officer, and Dr Jo Silva, our GP Advisor from the GP Integration Unit, for presenting an update on COVID-19 at Western Health, to the Western region GP network on Wednesday evening.

Presenting via Zoom, Dr Silva also shared practical insights on accessing Western Health services during this time.

The session concluded with a Q&A and was open to all GPs, Practice Managers and Practice Nurses in the region.

Calling all unused iPads

We understand that communication with loved ones is vital for patients, so have started providing virtual communication opportunities with family members via Zoom and FaceTime on iPads. Patients are loving the opportunity to connect online, and it’s great for our clinicians to be able to provide a simple solution. However we are in need of more iPads!

To make this program more readily available to all patients, we are seeking donations of old or unused iPads from our staff or our community.


  • Any old iPads (please note, we can only accept iPads as our IT team are unable to provide tech support across multiple platforms)
  • Unlocked and cleared of personal information – here are some instructions
  • No cracked screens
  • Good enough working order to be able to run Facetime or similar apps.

Please drop off an iPad at either of these locations:

  • Footscray Hospital – a repository will be located inside the main entrance off Gordon Street near the volunteer desk.
  • Sunshine Hospital – a repository will be located near main reception near the volunteer desk.

Catch-ups – Latest episodes released

Today we are releasing the content of the COVID Catch-Ups which took place last Thursday. For those who are interested, more of these sessions are in the process  of being lined up and will include some conversations with a sub-acute ward (likely to be at Williamstown), a surgical ward and some of our other service areas.  I am working my way around the traps!