Covid Messages from Russell

COVID – Messages from Russell

April 2, 2020

As we continue to use the time we have, planning continues at a fierce pace. As we move to be ready to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, I wanted to share with you some regular messages from my office. These will cover information that wouldn’t typically be in the other Bulletins you receive. It is essential that all staff review the Daily Bulletins so you can keep up to date with the information and how we are working for you and with you.

Thank you

Firstly I would like to thank the hundreds of staff who are supporting our organisation-wide efforts to be as prepared as we possibly can be for the weeks ahead. I sincerely appreciate your efforts, even if you feel your work cannot be seen, I can assure you that your contribution really matters. I would also like to acknowledge the staff who are preparing to support the many patients who will not have COVID-19 but who will continue to be dependent on Western Health for their acute & other care needs. This is just as important as the work specifically related to the pandemic.

Great response to Wellness Centres

I am pleased to see the Wellness Centres are now up and running at Footscray and Sunshine, with staff increasingly visiting these fantastic centres to access the resources they are offering. My thanks go to the teams in People and Culture who are not only supporting these centres, but also facing the processing of hundreds and hundreds of applications by those responding to our calls for staff to join us.


Kindness Matters

You might have noticed by now that the coronavirus site has had a complete overhaul in response to staff feedback on what you’d like to see and how you would like to access information. (Please continue to share information with any colleagues who have little or no opportunity to access online materials). As part of the overhaul of the coronavirus site, we have now introduced a Kindness Matters blog and series of posts. You will find lots of fantastic, uplifting and informative items here. It will also be where we will share a variety of videos, interviews and images reflecting the many acts of kindness we are seeing from our staff and those who appreciate them. You can share what your team is doing, recognise or thank a team or a colleague, or just let us know what gets you through – it may help other colleagues. Please submit to Ellise McLoughlan in Public Affairs.

Our first designated COVID-19 ward is 3F at Sunshine and the great team led by Nurse Unit Manager Joyce Dalde have compiled their own mini video to share their vision.  Click on the image below to view.

You have my support to protect yourself

Recently I have reminded all staff that you have my unwavering support to protect yourself through social distancing across all areas of the workplace and among all staff, whether clinical or non-clinical. Please feel free to ask colleagues to step back to give you the space you need. Reconfigure your seating to help achieve that space for each person.

Overwhelming response to calls for more staff

Over the last two weeks, Western Health has been working hard to implement approaches to bolster our staffing levels for the expected demand related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Like me, you will no doubt be moved to hear of the hundreds of responses we have had to these callouts.  For example, on the weekend we released a call on Facebook for nurses, midwives and patient care attendants. Within a matter of hours, we had received at least 600 applications and the posts themselves had reached 155,000 people through hundreds of post shares and comments. This is a phenomenal response and a sign of the groundswell of community support for our crucial and needed role at this time. Thank you for the part many of you play in sharing these important messages.

We do have an urgent and as yet, unmet need, for a large number of nurses with critical care skills. Please continue to help us get the word out on this.

Our Chief Medical Officer, Dr Paul Eleftheriou, released an Expression of Interest for final year medical students who were interested in working with us as clinical assistants during the COVID-19 response. We were again overwhelmed with responses and more than 160 students will now be assisting us. We are also in the process of contracting around 15 local GPs who have also responded to our call.

This is in addition to a great response from our current medical staff, including many of our casuals, who are ready and willing to be redeployed to the areas of need after appropriate training and upskilling to support the demands we may face.

Our Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Shane Crowe, issued a callout to all nursing or midwifery staff who have postgraduate qualifications in key specialty areas, who would be prepared to come forward to apply their skills once again. Within hours, more than half the 900 staff contacted, had responded with overwhelming commitment to come forward.

Our next intake of nursing and midwifery graduates will be starting several weeks early, to be on site for the anticipated hectic period ahead. To support this, our allied health clinicians have stepped forward and will be playing an important role in helping to mentor these staff.

These are just some of the myriad responses that make me very proud indeed to be the Chief Executive of Western Health. I know that together, we will get through the challenges ahead.