October 14, 2021

As COVID hospital admissions increase across Melbourne, Western Health has moved to the next stage of our surge planning. We are currently caring for 64 COVID-positive inpatients (including 13 in intensive care) across Sunshine Hospital, Footscray Hospital and Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s.

While this is inevitably putting extra pressure on our regular services, Western Health’s leadership team is working hard to prioritise services and staffing so we can best manage the increase in demand.

Some of our latest measures include the placement of extra senior staff in our emergency departments, to assist with patient triage. Additional senior staff are also being deployed to wards to support our busy ward teams. Some services, such as surgery at Williamstown, have been temporarily suspended to allow clinicians to focus more directly on the COVID response. We are also expanding our ICU and acute bed capacity.

As of this week, the Critical Care Outreach Team became available at Footscray Hospital. This team, which was established at Sunshine Hospital last month, combines the ICU Liaison Nursing Team, Intensive Care Registrar, Critical Care Unit Nurse Team, as well as anaesthetics staff, to support all rapid clinical responses. More details about the Critical Care Outreach Teams at both Sunshine and Footscray, including how to contact them, can be found here.

We will continue to review all elements of our COVID response, with patient safety guiding every decision we make – as is always the case at Western Health.

The great benefit of 20 months’ worth of pandemic planning is that we have many systems in place to lessen the load on our traditional services. We continue to innovate with our at-home and telehealth services. Today I want to highlight the many services that Western Health can now provide through our Hospital In The Home and Western@Home service.

Our medical and nursing at-home teams and GEM At Home program can provide timely medical care, and nursing services such as medication assistance, injections, wound care, bloods and swabbing. The Rapid Allied Health program provides urgent physiotherapy, occupational therapy and social work care, as well as equipment prescriptions and carer training. Our COVID-19 Positive Pathways program is currently overseeing care for more than 180 COVID-positive patients in our communities.

Together, these teams do a fantastic job preventing unnecessary ED presentations and ward admissions, which is needed now more than ever. Please make use of them. Referral is through the standard BOSSNet process on weekdays, and shift coordinators over the weekend.

Thanks, everyone, for everything you are doing. I’m so proud of the professionalism of Western Health staff. You continue to support our patients and communities through this pandemic, despite the personal challenges also brought by COVID-19. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.





COVID summary

  • Confirmed COVID ward inpatients at Western Health: 53
  • Confirmed COVID ICU inpatients at Western Health: 13
  • COVID tests by our testing sites yesterday: 2041
  • Vaccinations delivered yesterday by West Metro COVID Vaccinations team: overall (959,823) and yesterday (8316)
  • Percentage of Western Health staff vaccinated: 96.4% first dose and 88% second dose

Daily attestations

All staff are required to complete the daily electronic staff attestation (hyperlink) prior to commencing work on site. Please note that these questions include a mix of symptom and risk-factor screening, together with workforce information that Western Health is required to collect about staff who work across health services with COVID patients.

Healthcare workers are currently permitted to work across health services, however they must declare this prior to attending.

Staff who work in COVID areas at both Western Health and other health services are required to undergo staff surveillance testing.

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.