COVID Operations Bulletin – 26 August

August 26, 2020

Today I’m pleased to let you know about a new range of supports for Western Health staff around the correct use of PPE. We want to provide teams across all of our site with more accessible – and simplified – information about PPE, as part of our continuing commitment to support staff through COVID-19. As we all know, the correct use of PPE is vital for keeping ourselves and each other safe.

The PPE section of our COVID microsite has a new, user-friendly look, and now includes an extensive range of resources to help you with the correct selection, and donning and doffing, of PPE.

The new documents available include:

–        Explanations of the different types of PPE, and examples of when to use which ones

–        Advice on PPE donning and doffing, including step-by-step breakdowns of techniques

–        Posters on the range of masks available, such as surgical masks, duckbill masks and cupped style masks

–        Information about face shield usage

–        Tips for showering patients while wearing PPE.

Please have a look at the new PPE section here. You can’t miss it as it is now linked from the front page of the site!

We will also be commencing a PPE Champion strategy where nursing and medical educators and other clinical staff will adopt the role of PPE Champion to support staff to wear their PPE safely. Initially we are rolling this out in several trial wards with a plan to expand the rollout next week. I’ll keep you updated as this pilot program evolves.

Today I’m also asking staff members to ensure you are familiar with our visitation guidelines. Our restrictions have, through necessity, been amended at various stages throughout the pandemic. I’m getting feedback there is some confusion around the current rules. We want to make visiting as easy as possible for loved ones and support people who meet the criteria for visitation, so please take the time to read the QRG under V  or via this link visitation QRG.

To further help our patients keep in better contact with their family and friends, our Allied Health department has this week introduced a fantastic initiative called ‘Virtual Visits’. This is an important new strategy aimed at increasing social access via video or telephone calls. As part of the program, an allied health ‘Virtual Visiting’ lead has been appointed for each ward at Sunshine, Footscray and Williamstown (excluding ICU, because they have existing family communication strategies). Their role will be to schedule and facilitate virtual visits for patients in their ward, as pictured. It’s been estimated that seven out of 10 patients at Western Health require some form of assistance to get in touch with family remotely, so this is a very important service. I’d like to thank Julia Blackshaw and the Allied Health team for developing the program. See the bulletin below for more details, as well as the Virtual Visits QRG.


Thanks for reading.



COVID Daily Summary

•                 Number of Respiratory Assessment Clinic presentations yesterday – all sites: 275

•                 Numbers of confirmed COVID-19 inpatients:  36

•                 Wards/areas closed due to outbreaks: Hazeldean

•                 Numbers of staff who have tested positive for COVID 19: 177

•                 Numbers of staff who are currently on leave for COVID 19: 72

•                 Numbers of staff who have returned to work post COVID 19: 105

Virtual Visiting

An allied health Virtual Visiting lead has been appointed for each ward at Sunshine, Footscray and Williamstown (excluding intensive care, which has existing family communication strategies).

Here are the key points of the program:

  • Virtual visiting leads are responsible for scheduling and assisting with patient virtual visits
  • Virtual Visits are social calls between family and patients – no medical updates are given
  • Virtual Visiting leads are scheduling calls in advance
  • Leads will act as a resource for other staff willing and able to assist patients in calling/contacting family members via Ipad/tablet or phone
  • Video calls will be conducted on existing Ipads located on wards (additional Samsung tablets are coming)
  • Virtual Visiting leads will monitor demand and escalate for increased resource if needed

There is a high demand for assisting patients with Virtual Visits and everyone working on a ward is encouraged to offer assistance to the AH lead as able. Virtual Visit leads are able to support a limited number of calls per day per ward and they will prioritise the demand.

Link here to the Virtual Visiting QRG.

Physical distancing when smoking

It has come to my attention that some staff who smoke in small groups outside our campuses are not maintaining physical distancing. It is critical that physical distancing is fully maintained when smoking and when on breaks.

At one site, we also received a complaint from neighbours about staff removing masks and discarding them on the ground. Staff are advised that these behaviours are not acceptable.

COVID-19 Helpdesk

Western Health has a dedicated COVID-19 Staff Enquiries Helpdesk, which is available to both individual staff and managers. Confidentiality is assured.

Email is recommended as the first point of contact where possible:
Emails will be responded to within 24 hours.

Telephone contact: via Switch 8345 6666, choose option 1 for COVID – then request Staff Enquiries Helpdesk.