March 11, 2022

I have a few important matters to update you on this week. As COVID hospitalisations reduce and case numbers remain stable in the community, we’re now able to step down some of our internal COVID restrictions. This is the first phase of a series of changes, which we are continually reviewing in line with Department of Health guidelines. Please read the details in today’s bulletin, below.


Executive Director Operations (Acting)

COVID Response step down

A quick snapshot is below, however I encourage you to  read the COVID Safe Guidance Overview in full because several of the changes are conditional on COVID-safe behaviours and practice.

  • Workforce mobility – Movement across sites is allowed for education and training, high-priority meetings, participation in research. However, some activities require additional approvals so please refer to the detailed summary in the COVID Safe Guidance Overview.
  • Face-to face mandatory training and essential skills-based training can now be approved via local managers where the training involves 20 people or less from the same site and work groups.
  • High-priority meetings such as staff forums/team building/planning sessions are now permitted to be held face-to-face but require approval from the relevant Divisional Director, CSD or Executive Director.
  • Face-to-face research interventions and assessments can recommence for funded and approved research trials after submitting a plan outlining the measures to be taken to manage COVID risk during the trial to the COVID Response.
  • Contractors can recommence delivering stationery, equipment and printing desktop supplies directly to internal departments.
  • Patients are now permitted day leave where clinically indicated to achieve therapy goals, to support discharge planning, for compassionate reasons or as part of a residential program provided their multidisciplinary treating team approves AND they do not have COVID-19, or COVID-19 symptoms or are awaiting COVID-19 test results.
  • Outpatient and inpatient groups are now permitted for high-priority groups
  • Face-to-face interpreting is now permitted for any reason subject to availability
  • Volunteers are now permitted to return on site, with a staged approach to be implemented prioritising patient care activities.

There are no changes to guidance relating to mask wearing, physical distancing, the staff attestation or visitation. Once again, full details of guidance updates can be found here.

Face-to-face interpreting

Face-to-face interpreting will be available for in-house languages from Thursday 10 March 2022, and provided by Western Health Language Services staff.

Due to demand, the interpreters may not always be available to attend in person and will work with the requesting clinician to provide the best possible alternative for the patient by video or phone.

As face-to-face services begin to resume, agency requests for languages not available by our in-house team will be phased back in, particularly for exceptional circumstances, such as end of life discussions or difficult conversations about diagnoses. Other agency requests will need to be sourced via telephone or video. Please call Language Services on 8345 7148 should you need to discuss.

RATs for asymptomatic staff testing

Rapid Antigen Tests are now available to any staff member who would like to participate in routine asymptomatic surveillance testing. Surveillance testing consists of:

  • Three Rapid Antigen Tests each week
  • Each test should be conducted less than 72 hours apart.

Staff members who wish to participate will be issued with one pack of 5 Rapid Antigen Tests to commence their surveillance program. Rapid Antigen Tests will only be issued for the personal use of staff members, not for use by family members or the public.

Staff who wish to participate may present to collect their first kit from the locations listed here. A number of collection locations are co-located with reception or information desks, so we would encourage people to please be patient and aware that the staff assisting with distribution may also be assisting members of the public or performing other tasks.

Staff are also advised that the collection points available at sites other than the Sunshine COVID Testing Clinic are available to asymptomatic staff only who are working a shift on that day at that site. Staff with symptoms or who are not working on the day they would like to collect a rapid antigen test kit should attend the Sunshine COVID Testing Clinic.

Further information about Rapid Antigen Testing for staff can be found here.

Pharmacy services at Sunshine and Footscray hospitals

To improve patient access to care, including medication management, Pharmacy is available Monday to Friday, weekends and public holidays for medication dispensing and supply services at Sunshine and Footscray Hospitals. These services are available between 8.15am –5pm hours, 7 days per week.

Cut off times for the receipt of prescriptions and medication orders to be dispensed are:

  • Discharge prescriptions: 4pm
  • Inpatient supply: 4.45pm.

If a patient needs pharmacy review before discharge prior to 5pm, please call the pharmacy department and speak to the pharmacist in charge to escalate this. The medications may not be supplied by the WH pharmacy, but the pharmacy can review the prescription and provide the safest means to facilitate discharge.

If a patient can be discharged outside of these hours and the Nurse In Charge has made the decision that the patient can safely manage their medication needs, the patient can be discharged. If deemed necessary, a hospital pharmacist can follow up the next day, but the pharmacy will need to be notified if this is required.

The On-Call Pharmacist can be contacted via the After-Hours Administrator for any urgent matters outside of these times.