With another 21 COVID cases reported today, and about 300 active exposure sites, Western Health is continuing to work hard to protect our staff and patients and to ensure we provide Best Care. We currently have about 300 staff furloughed, largely as a result of the high number of local exposure sites.
Several measures have been taken to reduce demand on our services. These include the temporary diversion of ambulances from our emergency departments (a decision that was made in consultation with Ambulance Victoria and the Department of Health), a reduction in elective surgery, and the short-term closure of some inpatient beds across our sites.
Thanks to everyone for following our new rules around the wearing of N95 masks and eye protection in all clinical spaces at all of our sites. This is an important measure to protect staff in the event that anybody with COVID enters one our hospitals. More details can be found in the bulletin below.
Today I’d like to remind you that asymptomatic testing is available to all staff. Our COVID clinic at Sunshine Hospital has a staff-only testing 9am-10am week days. Full details about Western Health testing sites here.
Finally, a reminder to please ensure you are looking after yourself. I’m extraordinarily proud to work for an organisation with so many highly dedicated staff, but I don’t underestimate the toll the pandemic is taking on every one of you. It’s a stressful time, and you’ll be feeling that stress at home as well as work. Let’s all keep looking out for each other.
Please also remember that Western Health’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is open to everybody. I encourage you to make use of it at any time. Other supports, including wellbeing videos and helpful apps, can be found on the Wellbeing & Support section of our COVID microsite.
Thanks for reading.
Click here to read today’s update by the Chief Health Officer.
CONTACTING COVID STAFF HELPDESK
A reminder from yesterday that 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
Email email@example.com and include the following detail:
- Work location
- Exposure site and date
- Contact number/s
N95/P2 MASK AND EYE PROTECTION
Given that transmission risk in the western region remains high, Western Health continues to take a precautionary approach by asking that all staff working in clinical areas across all Western Health sites (including staff of Bacchus Marsh, Melton and Caroline Springs) to please continue wearing an N95/P2 mask and eye protection (face shield preferred).
This 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. This still 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 you safe.
Staff working in public areas or administration areas where patient care is not being delivered will continue wearing surgical masks (unless you work in the Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s building), and staff alone in an office with the doors closed are still exempt from wearing masks.
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 posters and videos for staff specifically for N95/P2 masks. This site includes guidance for staff with beards, as facial hair can make mask fit more challenging.
Please read the Fit Checking QRG and remember to fit-check your N95/P2 masks at the start of every shift to ensure a proper fit. Staff should remember that unless masks are damp or soiled, they should be worn for the duration of a clinic or shift, or until a break is taken (whichever is shorter in duration) or after performing an Aerosol Generating Procedure (AGP), or when in close proximity to an Aerosol Generating Behaviour (AGB).
Review Table 4 of the PPE guidelines here for details on what constitutes an AGP or AGB.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com if you have any questions about this change or the Western Health PPE guidelines.