COVID Operations Bulletin | Pandemic Code Brown – 19 January

January 19, 2022

Good afternoon all,

In response to the increasing numbers of COVID-19 hospitalisations and furloughed workforce state-wide, the Department of Health is implementing a Pandemic Code Brown across public health services in metropolitan Melbourne and six regional hospitals from midday today.

This triggers individual public health services – including Western Health – to activate their own Code Brown plans, which step out how to plan, prepare, respond and recover from an external emergency.

The Pandemic Code Brown is considered necessary to allow health services to act in concert, rather than in isolation and is expected to be in place for four to six weeks.

In accordance with our Code Brown, Western Health will have an Incident Commander at all times and will work with the Department of Health to facilitate a coordinated approach to prioritise resources in the face of the increasing demand.

Responsibility for the Incident Commander role sits with me as Executive Director Operations (Acting) and I will share the role with my fellow Executive Directors. We will continue to meet daily with our Incident Management Response Team to ensure a coordinated and agile response to the increase in COVID hospitalisations and workforce furlough.

As part of the Pandemic Code Brown we will consider measures including reconfiguring services, directing staff to work in different parts of the hospital or closing non-urgent but important services to divert the workforce – much of which we are doing already.

At this point, we are not planning on recalling staff from leave – we’re very aware of the benefits of time out for our staff – however, it is something we may need to consider.

I’d like to again thank you for the ongoing support and agility that you have shown over such an extended period of time. To help support the wellbeing of our staff, we have put a number of initiatives in place including debriefing sessions, manager support sessions, convenient meals and recognition of extra shifts and overtime. For more information, go to the COVID crisis wellbeing initiatives information on this web page. Please do tap into these initiatives as required.

I will continue to update you on any further developments and changes via these Operations Bulletins


Executive Director Operations (Acting)