Covid Messages from Russell


November 5, 2020

I am sure we have all been relieved to see the rates of community transmission of COVID-19 continue to fall. At Western Health, that’s given us an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved – and the challenges we’ve overcome – together during the pandemic so far. But if you have reflections you want to share please send them to me here.

While last week’s Research and Best Care Conference was largely about what we’ve learned as a health service, the main focus of my COVID Message today is to continue to ask you how you have been coping as individuals.


Given Western Health’s position in the centre of Australia’s main COVID hotspots this year, we know as well as any other health service how tough 2020 has been. I know you’ve all had to deal with many challenges – from witnessing trauma and loss up-close and wearing PPE constantly, to juggling work and home-schooling, and being disconnected from your usual support networks. This is starting to change with the lifting of restrictions but possibly not as fast as we would like to reconnect with family and friends.

Today, I want to invite you to tell us how you are travelling, and share your thoughts, through a short online pulse survey. We want to make sure that what we’ve been doing to support your wellbeing has worked for you, or whether we could be helping in other ways. The survey will only take three minutes. A link to the survey will be sent out in a text message today, or it can be accessed at this link:


Western Health is well known for being innovative and agile, and those traits were on full display during the fabulous Research and Best Care Conference last week.

If you missed any of the sessions and would like to catch up, they’ve all been recorded and will be made available on the Live Best Care site next week.

Thanks very much to the organisers, in particular Narelle Watson and Bill Karanatsios. And a shout out to our worthy grant recipients Dr Matthew Guest, Sophie Gore, A/Prof Justin Yeung, Alesha Sayner, Hayley Scott, Rebecca Woltsche, Rebecca Pile, Anastasia Costelloe, Erin Shaw, Fika Tamiru and Prof Linda Sweet, as well as AIMSS award winners Jason Talevski and Danielle Debruin.

Our grants were very generously funded by our corporate sponsors Maxxia, BankVic, Medtronic and Hesta.

Thanks to all.


As you might have seen in the Herald Sun or heard on 3AW last week, Western Health staff have attracted some attention for voting to donate ‘Christmas lunch’ to Foodbank Victoria. Given the choice of receiving your own meal voucher or packaged lunch, donating money to a local charity, paying your meal forward to Foodbank Victoria or “doing nothing”, the Foodbank option won out. Your decision means Foodbank Victoria will be able to provide 50,000 meals – or equivalent food supplies – to vulnerable Victorians. It was great to meet with CEO Dave McNamara and the Foodbank Victoria team last week as they accepted the donation – and also very humbling to learn more about the food crisis affecting Victorians as a result of the pandemic. Charities are reporting that demand for food relief has increased by 47 per cent this year.

I’m proud that Western Health has been able to contribute, and we’ve also had some great feedback about your generosity, including this message on Facebook: “Just when we thought our health workers had already given us all they had this year, they find a little more. Your generosity is overwhelming”.

One of our frontline workers really summed up the selfless attitude of Western Health staff: “As frontline workers we have worked very hard this year, but we’re also aware of how lucky we are to be able to go to work and provide for our families.”

Great effort, everyone.



Thanks to everyone who tuned in for my fortnightly webinar yesterday. Click here if you would like to watch. Topics included updates on the Sunshine Hospital Emergency Department (SHED) redevelopment and the New Footscray Hospital project, as well as fit testing, the EMR’s Infusions Enhancement Project, and working from home.


Thank you all, Stay Safe