Covid Messages from Russell

COVID Messages from Russell – 23 July

July 23, 2020

With the rapidly evolving nature of the pandemic and the urgency and importance of key messages, I ask that all staff once again focus on reading the daily bulletins. They are a key one stop shop for you to familiarise yourself with the latest in our COVID response. They will be brief and focused. Please also ensure you share with colleagues.  

A preliminary but ongoing investigation into the staff COVID-19 infections on 3E indicate potential transmission from patients who have a behavioural disturbance and/or exhibit other aerosol-generating behaviours such as shouting.

We are therefore recommending, for a time-limited period, that staff must wear a P2/N95 mask when managing or dealing with patients who are suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases AND who are agitated, delirious, acutely disturbed, have a behavioural disturbance from a mental health condition OR exhibit aerosol-generating behaviours such as shouting.

Security and other staff who respond to incidents that involve patients from the group listed above or when dealing with patients in high-risk areas (see below) must also wear P2/N95 masks.

All clinical and non-clinical staff who work in the following high-risk areas, must also wear a P2/N95 mask at all times and should follow the extended-use principles as appropriate:

  • Emergency departments at all sites (including associated ED-radiology units)
  • COVID-19 Wards Sunshine campus: 2G, 3E and 3F
  • COVID-19 Wards Footscray campus: 2C and 2D
  • Hazeldean (following appropriate risk-assessment)
  • Aged care outreach service (following appropriate risk-assessment)

Please also refer to the ‘P2 / N95 Mask – Principles of Fit Checking’ QRG on the microsite under ‘P’. For further information, please refer to our COVID-19 PPE Guidelines found here.

If you have any queries regarding potential infection or testing, please email the staff enquiry line on and you will receive a call within 24 hours of your enquiry. As always, testing is required if you have even the slightest signs of illness and you must remain away from work while awaiting the results.

Thank you to all staff for following the requirement to wear PPE at all times (except when eating/drinking) and to maintain physical distancing in every possible circumstance, especially  in break rooms. I know this is tough but it is crucial.

In this time when there are multiple pressures on all of us and the community, I am proud to see the incredible work being done by teams right across Western Health and beyond our walls by our community staff. Often this work is difficult and confronting and yet you continue to step up and get it done, for the sake of our patients and their families. Thank you.

Just one of the many challenging areas of work is being undertaken by the nursing and medical at home teams led by Kirsty Barnes and Dr Claire White. They are now supporting almost 900 vulnerable aged care residents, some of whom are ill with COVID-19,  in 12 aged care facilities experiencing COVID outbreaks.

We have also now released the first episode in a new Western Health podcast series called True Western and this features the fascinating story behind the development of the device featured on ABC TV’s 7.30 Report earlier this week  (see link below). The device is currently being used for a number of our COVID patients, including in our ICUs. In this episode, you will hear from A/Prof Forbes McGain and ICU Research Manager Sam Bates, but also our head of unit for ICU, A/Prof Craig French and Laloma Carstens, one of our brilliant senior ICU nurses at Sunshine ICU, along with the engineering experts from our partner in this project, the University of Melbourne.

To listen you can click here:

Or click on the image below to listen via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you prefer to listen.

This story and the work of our ICU Footscray team also featured on the ABC TV 7.30 Report earlier this week. Click here to view.

There has been further media coverage in the past 24 hours, with Craig French appearing on the Ch 7 late news last night and Dr Marion Kainer quoted extensively in a Herald Sun story today on COVID’s increasing impact on younger people.

All of these pieces serve only to remind us of the task at hand and the efforts of a united health service pulling together to provide the absolute best care possible to support its staff, patients and the community in the midst of the most challenging health emergency in a century.

A truly massive Thank you to all.

Williamstown Community Hub

Some great news from our Williamstown campus today too, with the wonderful new staff and community hub approaching completion. This has been funded solely through community donations through the Western Health Foundation. I had the opportunity to visit earlier this week and it is terrific to see the transformation and the amazing difference it has made to the whole hospital. Here are some sneak preview shots and don’t worry, those chairs WILL be physically distanced!!