July 1, 2020

With 36 Melbourne suburbs now locked down and many of those directly inside our catchment and a further group in neighbouring areas, the ramifications for Western Health are significant.

The Victorian Government has today advised healthcare facilities in restricted postcode locations to actively discourage and minimise visitors so we will also communicate these messages through our social media channels.

“Facilities within restricted postcodes should communicate that visiting is discouraged, unless necessary. Visitors are permitted when required for care giving, and for compassionate reasons. The number of visitors, and the duration of their stay should be minimised.” DHHS

Please refer to the attached document from DHHS.

Patient visitors and those accompanying patients, as well as all outpatients attending our sites, are now being provided with a mask and advised how to safely use these. Please monitor your areas to ensure that all who should be wearing a mask are doing so.  These rules apply at all sites and all campuses.

Western Health has time limits on visitors – currently this is no more than two hours – however these hours are also under review.

Unfortunately one of our staff colleagues in the Women’s and Children’s Division at Joan Kirner has tested positive for COVID-19. We are providing support to that staff member and all of the appropriate contact tracing has taken place. Two patients and sixteen staff members are now in 14 days’ home isolation as a result of close contact. The source of transmission is not yet known.

These matters further reinforce the absolute importance of all staff rigorously adhering to physical distancing in every circumstance except where it cannot be avoided and for clinical reasons. At those times face shields or other appropriate PPE must be worn, in accordance with PPE Guidelines which are located under P within Quick Reference Guides on our coronavirus site. All staff are strongly encouraged to use their face shield at work and this is even more important considering we are located in an area with higher rates of COVID-19.  A further reminder that meetings cannot be held in person where distancing and space do not allow – instead you must use alternative measures such as Zoom.

Following on from the Premier’s announcements yesterday, we saw a very substantial number of calls coming in with patients cancelling elective surgery and others cancelling outreach visits from our staff. Many of these cancellations are connected to patients being concerned about coming in to what they see as a potentially unsafe environment due to our location; others arise from patients not understanding that they are allowed to leave their local area for healthcare. It is important that we do whatever we can to encourage patients to continue to receive the care they need and assure them that it is safe to do so.

All staff coming to work at our sites should carry their Western Health ID badge and license in case this is required at spot checks across our local suburbs as you move to and from work. The matter of working from home is now being immediately reviewed across the organisation and we will be providing further guidance on this as soon as possible.

Many staff have now been tested for COVID-19 at our clinics at Sunshine Hospital or in Sunbury and we know some are still awaiting results. If you are concerned about the time this is taking, please contact Staff Enquiries via email: whscovid-19staffclinicenquiries@wh.org.au to follow up as this will also enable more staff to confirm their result and return to work if they no longer have symptoms.  A further reminder that staff have a dedicated time they can attend the Sunshine Hospital Respiratory Assessment Clinic: 9-10am each day or they can attend at another time during the day.

A huge amount of work has been done at all of our testing sites including the Showgrounds in recent days.

Thank you for your continuing work to support all of our patients at this time.

Further notifications to staff will be issued today and in coming days. Please continue to follow all necessary precautions including with the use of PPE.



Acting Executive Director Operations



COVID Summary

• Respiratory Assessment Clinic presentations yesterday: Melbourne Showgrounds – 1108; Sunshine – 167; Sunbury – 133
• Numbers of individuals tested for COVID-19 at Western Health to date:17,611 (does not include Showgrounds)
• Numbers of individuals tested positive to date: 150 (does not include Showgrounds)
• Numbers of current inpatients with COVID-19: 3