The rising number of COVID exposure sites in our region has significant consequences for Western Health. The first is that we currently have more than 280 staff furloughed, mainly as a result of the several hundred exposure sites listed across the western suburbs. About 50 of those staff are furloughed due to the exposure at Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s. We are working very hard to minimise the impact of staff absences on our provision of services.
The high number staff affected by exposure sites means the COVID Staff Enquiries service is experiencing very high demand. To ensure staff receive timely advice and can return to work as soon possible we are introducing a new system to streamline the process.
Staff must continue to follow the Department of Health’s guidelines following an exposure to a Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 exposure site. Western Health may, at times, also apply more conservative restrictions compared to the Department of Health.
From now on, staff will no longer need to contact the COVID Staff Enquiries service if they have been to a Tier 2 exposure site. Instead, staff should get clearance to return to work by presenting their negative COVID test result to their manager.
There are three important exceptions. You must email COVID Staff Enquiries if the Tier 2 exposure site you have visited relates to:
- A school
- An apartment building
- CS Square Shopping Centre in Caroline Springs
All other enquiries should still be directed to the COVID Staff Enquiries service, including:
- A Tier 1 exposure OR contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
- Returning from a RED or ORANGE zone
- Worked or volunteered in a Hotel Quarantine site
- Been released from Hotel Quarantine
- Worked in a COVID Streaming area at another hospital
- A household member who has attended a Tier 1 exposure site
- General enquiries
These new guidelines will enable the COVID Staff Enquiries team to focus on high risk enquiries and allow staff to return to work as soon as possible.
Finally, can I remind you that all Western Health staff can access asymptomatic testing at any time, and staff caring for high risk-suspected COVID patients are particularly encouraged to seek weekly asymptomatic tests. Refer to the QRG here for further information.
Thanks very much for reading. I look forward to keeping you updated as the situation continues to evolve.
CONTACTING COVID STAFF HELPDESK
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and include the following detail:
- Work location
- Exposure site and date
- Contact number/s
N95 MASKS AND EYE PROTECTION
Western Health is taking a precautionary approach and asking that all staff working in clinical areas across all Western Health sites (including staff of Bacchus Marsh, Melton and Caroline Springs) wear an N95/P2 mask and eye protection (face shield preferred), effective immediately.
This directive also applies to all staff working in the community across various settings, regardless of location, and includes staff at our testing centres and vaccination hubs. Until further notice, this also includes all staff in the Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s building (clinical and non-clinical areas).
This change to PPE guidelines is temporary, with the primary goal of keeping our staff safe.
Staff working in public areas or administration areas where patient care is not being delivered will continue wearing surgical masks, and staff alone in an office with the doors closed are still exempt from wearing masks.
The PPE supply team is working hard to get more N95/P2 masks to your local areas, so please be patient with the team as they are fielding a high volume of requests. If more PPE stock is required, please go through the standard ordering process which is detailed here. This process also covers the ordering of reusable face shields.
We are mindful that many staff are not familiar with using N95/P2 masks. Please familiarise yourself with the multiple PPE educational resources on our PPE site which include handy posters and videos for staff as well as our PPE online module. Read the Fit Checking QRG and remember that fit-checking your N95/P2 masks at the start of every shift is essential to ensure a proper fit to keep you safe.
Please also take time to read the Everyday things to keep us safe Quick Reference Guide which contains tips to prevent spread, and let’s not forget the fundamentals such as hand hygiene and physical distancing.
PPE education and support for staff will also be increased, but in the meantime check with the trained PPE Spotters in your area. The Infection Prevention team will also ensure PPE posters are displayed in clinical areas.
If you haven’t been fit-tested for your N95/P2 mask please make a booking through these links (N.B. staff can book through either link for Joan Kirner) JKWC JKWC1 WCHRE, Sunshine Footscray and if you can’t find a well-fitting N95/P2 mask while you wait for your fit-testing appointment, please wear a surgical mask with a face shield to keep yourself safe. Please refer to this process for escalating concerns regarding a poorly-fitting N95/P2 mask.
Staff of Bacchus Marsh, Melton and Caroline Springs should continue with current processes regarding N95/P2 fitting.
For any questions regarding fit-testing please email email@example.com or for urgent queries, call Helen Morton on 0421 977 979
Many thanks for your patience while we work through this current situation and please contact Dr Paul Eleftheriou at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this change or the Western Health PPE guidelines.