FAQS for Doctors

Clinical Care - Can I use my stethoscope on a COVID swabbed patient?

Yes. You MUST clean your hands and the stethoscope thoroughly before use. Perform hand hygiene again after cleaning the stethoscope. Repeat these steps in between each patient.

Clinical Care - Do I need to double bag a flu PCR swab or bloods from a patient who has also had a COVID swab?

Yes … and please send ALL specimens from a suspected COVID patient to pathology with a PSA, NOT in the chute. If a PSA is not available – you must walk the specimen to the lab yourself.

Clinical Care - Nebulisers – should they be used?

In a word, no. There is little evidence that nebulisers are more effective than inhalers and spacers and there is a potential risk of aerosolizing droplets in a COVID 19 patient, putting you at risk. If you still want to use nebulisers for some reason please contact the respiratory team for advice, wear PPE and deliver in a negative pressure room.

Personal Protective Equipment - What PPE do I need to use?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is our first line of protection against transmission and a large area of anxiety for healthcare staff. The COVID-19 team are continuously working to update and provide guidelines on the correct use of PPE.

Refer to the Quick Reference Guide section of this site for guidelines on PPE guidelines.

Work Attire - Who should be wearing scrubs?

Unfortunately, the hospital supply of scrubs is finite and it is not possible at this time to provide hospital scrubs individually for every staff member.
Hospital scrubs are only available for those high risk areas that have traditionally used hospital scrubs – theatre, ICU, ED and other procedural areas. Staff in these areas must take only one pair, and must leave them at work for laundering. DO NOT take hospital scrubs to use in other areas, or take them home. Many clinical staff in other areas already have their own scrubs which they may wear, or may purchase scrubs independently if this is convenient, and otherwise should wear equivalent minimalist clothing. Refer to this memo for more information.

Patient Workflow - Will there be dedicated COVID-19 management teams?

Currently Western Health does not have a plan for a COVID specific unit, instead there will be cohorting of patients within individual units. There will also be physical cohorting of patients by wards.

Patient Workflow - What ‘bedcard’ will COVID-19 positive patients be treated under?

  • General Medicine
  • Respiratory
  • Acute Aged Care

Patient Workflow - Which wards will be used for COVID-19 positive patients?

There has been significant progress with the restructuring of wards to accommodate a potential coronavirus-related surge. The Western Health surge planning includes a capacity to open over 100 additional acute beds. To support this, the COVID-19 Logistics teams has been busily getting our new wards ready and our workforce team has been progressing recruitment and workforce planning.

  • Sunshine
    • Ward 2B – new 20-bed acute ward
    • Ward 2G – new 28-bed acute ward
    • Ward 2H – new 28-bed acute ward
  • Further wards will be opened up as the situation evolves.
  • Please remember, however, that the current sensitivity for COVID 19 swabs is not high and it is vitally important we are not complacent in our infection prevention practices with non C19 patients.

Patient Workflow - How are we flagging COVID-19 positive patients?

The Laboratory will make the treating team aware of a positive result as soon as it becomes available

Testing - What are the criteria for testing?

The Victorian Department for Health and Human Services provides up to date guidance on testing criteria for suspected COVID-19 patients.

Testing - Will COVID-19 test results be expedited for healthcare workers?

Currently the wait time is 2-3 days for either a positive or negative result.

Leave entitlements - What happens in terms of leave if self isolating/in quarantine for JMS on both full time and casual contracts?

We are guided by the state DHHS about leave related matters and want to ensure that our advice is consistent. This guidance we receive is rapidly changing and any definitive information we provide at a point in time may become outdated quickly. As a general statement, any doctor that has followed state and federal advice with regards to travel and quarantine should have access to some type of paid leave in the event they become unwell or be asked to quarantine. If personal/sick leave balance runs out, it is likely they will have access to further paid leave, and this will be worked out on a case by case basis with our People and Culture department.

If you have any specific queries regarding sick/personal leave please contact Yvette Roberts from People and Culture: Yvette.Roberts@wh.org.au.

Refer to FAQ’s COVID-19 Leave Arrangements information on the site.

Leave entitlements - Will current planned annual leave be cancelled/rescheduled voluntarily/involuntarily?

There has thus far been no decision to cancel/recall staff who are on annual leave. This may change depending on state-wide decisions and we will inform you as soon as possible if this occurs. If you would like to cancel your annual leave so that you can help with the increase in workload during COVID-19 outbreak we would be very grateful and you can do so by emailing whmwu@wh.org.au.

In the current uncertain circumstances, annual leave cannot be rebooked for a later stage in the year at this point in time. If you are unable to take annual leave this year, you will retain the leave balance and in the worst case you will be paid out the leave balance when you leave WH.

Currently no new leave requests are being accepted.

Leave entitlements - Conference Leave?

Staff with existing approved conference leave requiring cancellation are to contact Medical Workforce via email so rosters can be corrected.

Logistics - is there a plan to close Sunshine and Footscray ressies?

There is not currently a plan to close ressies

Please ensure correct social distancing parameters

Wellbeing - The current situation is having a large impact on my mental health and wellbeing. Is there any support out there for this?

Refer to Wellbeing & Support for Doctors information on the site

To commence as of Monday March 30th – Western Health Wellness and Support Hubs will be running 7am-6pm to offer onsite Employee Assistance and can be found at:

  • Footscray: Mavis Mitchell Room
  • Sunshine: Lecture Theatre, WCHRE 1st Floor

VDHP – the Victorian Doctors Health Program which provides a confidential, anonymous 24 hour service, staffed by experienced GPs.

Beyond Blue– online or phone support and some great advice for looking after your mental health.

Sane Australia – online or phone support for complex mental health issues.

Up to date advice - How do I contact the WH COVID-19 Staff Helpline?

A reminder that the best way to contact Western Health’s COVID-19 Staff Clinic Inquiry Line is now via email. Send your contact details to whscovid-19staffclinicenquiries@wh.org.au and a staff member will be in touch within 24 hours.

Contact - Who can I contact if I have any further questions?

Birinder Giddey – Deputy Chief Medical Officer: Birinder.giddey@wh.org.au

The RMO society have created a  google form which allows you to ask questions and make suggestions relating to COVID-19: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc2wkXA4QXWaDMu8aHaBUgyMpUP5PFAwwfPgbvvWUJ9VHHeOQ/viewform