October 11, 2021

As you’re no doubt well aware, the sharply increasing rate of community transmission across Melbourne is translating to very high numbers of COVID-19 patients needing hospital care. This is putting the hospital system across metropolitan Melbourne under significant pressure, and that includes Western Health. To accommodate this increasing demand, Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s at Sunshine Hospital began accepting COVID-19 patients on Friday night and Footscray Hospital will begin doing the same this afternoon.

As was the case when Sunshine Hospital became a COVID “streaming” hospital last month, these decisions about Footscray Hospital and Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s have been made after extensive planning and are part of the Department of Health’s overall COVID-19 strategy. They follow the surge planning that Western Health’s COVID-19 leadership team has been refining over almost 20 months, since the beginning of the pandemic.

At Footscray Hospital, this means that COVID-positive patients will be accepted in the Emergency Department, the dedicated COVID ward (2D), and the intensive care unit (ICU). Sunshine Hospital will continue to accept patients in the Emergency Department, COVID Wards 3F and 2G, and the ICU. We have dedicated SCOVID wards (for suspected COVID patients) at Sunshine (Wards 3E and 1A) and Footscray (Wards 2C).

At Joan Kirner, this means that COVID-positive maternity patients can now be admitted to both Birthing and Level 7 (and, in some circumstances, to the COVID wards in Sunshine Hospital). If required, the babies of COVID-positive maternity patients can be admitted to our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or special care nursery. (Please note: At this stage paediatric patients who test positive to COVID will still be referred to the Royal Children’s Hospital or Monash Children’s, as these are the dedicated COVID streaming hospitals for children in Victoria).

While we are as well-prepared as possible, we face some very challenging times ahead. This applies not only to Western Health, but all metropolitan health services.

Whatever your role at Western Health, I know all of you are working under increased pressure. Our ED teams are facing particularly challenging circumstances, with ambulance presentations at all-time high rates. That of course has flow-on effects for services (and staff) right across our health service. As we work our way through what has become the toughest phase of the pandemic, I want to thank all of you for your dedication and endurance.

Let’s keep working together, and looking after each other. And please, keep safe.

I’ll continue to keep you updated.




COVID summary

–              Confirmed COVID ward inpatients at Western Health: 61

–              Confirmed COVID ICU inpatients at Western Health: 14

–              COVID tests by our testing sites over the weekend: 2682

–              Vaccinations delivered by West Metro COVID Vaccinations team: overall (935,273); over the weekend (16,775)

–              Percentage of Western Health staff vaccinated: 95.5% first dose and 86.7% fully vaccinated

Mandatory vaccination

The first major deadline for the mandatory vaccination of Victorian healthcare workers – as set by the State Government – is this Friday, October 15. As per the directions of the Chief Health Officer, all Western Health staff must have had their first vaccination by Friday (or proof of a vaccination appointment to occur by 29 October). More details here.

PPE guidelines

Staff being aware of the PPE requirements for their particular role and workspace within Western Health is vital. Please check the PPE poster and review the overall guidelines in the PPE section of our COVID-19 microsite.

Visitation rules

These are the current visitation guidelines at Western Health, which are in line with the COVID Peak (Black) rating that all Victorian health services are currently operating under.

Contacting COVID staff enquiries

Email whscovid-19staffclinicenquiries@wh.org.au and include the following detail:

  • Name
  • Role
  • Work location
  • Exposure site and date/ Enquiry Reason
  • Contact number/s