October 14, 2020

I’m pleased to report that we currently have only one COVID-positive inpatient at Western Health.  While that is a milestone we should all be proud of, we are facing extremely high demand in a number of other areas across our sites. Today, for example, our surgical teams have 50 emergency cases scheduled, following the 40 emergency surgeries completed yesterday. Our emergency department teams continue to see high numbers of patients presenting with complex mental health support needs.

Recent media coverage has given the public some insight into the incredible work you all do, including in the Sunshine ED, as shown on the ABC’s 7.30 program, and by the aged care liaison team, featured in the Sunday Age. You can see this coverage by clicking below.

I’d like to alert you to new guidelines for testing during quarantine, as recently advised by the Department of Health and Human Services. From now, those identified as close contacts by the DHHS must get tested on day 11 or thereafter of their quarantine period, or they will have their quarantine extended. Getting tested on day 11 of quarantine helps accurately identify whether it is safe for the close contact to be released from quarantine, without the risk of infecting other people. The COVID team can assist if you have any queries regarding this. Email them on:  whscovid-19staffclinicenquiries@wh.org.au

Finally, a reminder that our Inspire Awards are being held tomorrow. These awards are always important acknowledgement of the dedication of Western Health, but they are of particular importance in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to congratulate all of the winners who will be announced in the live-streamed event being hosted by Russell Harrison and Suellen Bruce. But thanks go to each and every one of you for your hard work and dedication throughout 2020. It’s been a very challenging year, so take some time to reflect on your achievements tomorrow. To join the virtual awards ceremony – from 3pm-4pm tomorrow – click here: https://vimeo.com/event/369664

There’s a few more bits and pieces of information below… including how to get your hands on some GORMAN scrubs!




COVID-19 Daily Summary

  • Number of Respiratory Assessment Clinic presentations yesterday – all sites: 267
  • Numbers of confirmed COVID-19 inpatients: 1
  • Wards/areas closed due to outbreaks: nil
  • Numbers of staff who have tested positive for COVID 19: 189
  • Numbers of staff who are currently on leave for COVID 19: 1
  • Numbers of staff who have returned to work post COVID 19: 188

Visitor guidelines

The following visitor rules currently apply at Western Health’s sites:

  • one visitor per patient, once a day, for a maximum of two hours, when an exemption is granted for care, support or compassionate reasons
  • our visiting hours are 4pm-8pm
  • two parents, carers or guardians allowed in newborn services and in the children’s ward.

For more information, please see Western Health’s updated visitor guidelines.

Bare Below The Elbows (BBE)

The World Health Organisation recommends that long sleeves be avoided by healthcare workers. In addition, the effectiveness of hand hygiene is improved when: skin is intact, fingernails are natural, short, and unvarnished; hands and forearms are free of jewellery; and sleeves are above the elbow.

The intention of ‘Bare Below the Elbow’ is to ensure effective hand and wrist hygiene can be undertaken and to avoid contamination of sleeve cuffs. The hands, wrists and forearms are the most contaminated area of the body for healthcare workers.

The role of clothing in the transmission of pathogens is based on the knowledge that the patient’s skin and their surrounding environment are heavily contaminated with organisms (known and unknown).

The clothing of the healthcare worker can easily become contaminated by being in contact with the patient or the environment. It can be presumed that organisms may be transmitted from the healthcare worker clothing to the subsequent patient.

Staff having direct contact with patients or a patient’s environment should observe the following:

  • Bracelets, wrist watches and rings with stones or ridges should not be worn. A single flat ring or band may be worn but should not interfere with effective hand hygiene practice
  • Sleeves should be above the elbows
  • Enhanced nails (gel or acrylic) or nail polish should not be worn

Strategic Direction 2021-2023

As explained in CEO Russell Harrison’s staff memo on Monday, the executive team wants to hear your thoughts about Western Health’s Strategic Direction for 2021-2023. COVID-19 has changed the way we all work, and your insights and ideas will help our health service prepare for the future. Share your views at virtual pop-up sessions focussed on individual themes. These interactive 30 minute sessions are held across a range of times. Take a look at the times and themes and join a session online. You are very welcome to join multiple sessions.

In addition to the pop-ups, you can contribute to Western Health’s Strategic Direction via the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8H3MFYD

Safety with patient personal hygiene care

Providing personal hygiene care to patient, resident, or client in a wet enclosed space where physical distancing cannot be maintained may pose a transmission risk of Coronavirus to healthcare workers. Humidity and ventilation in bathrooms may impact mask moisture levels, filtration ability and fit seal. Providing personal hygiene for a patient is a core right whilst maintaining the safety of healthcare workers by mitigating risks. Patient hygiene activities in the bathroom include bathing, dressing, grooming, toilet support and washing.

For detailed guidelines, please see the new QRG here.

COVID-19 outbreaks

To help you keep updated on the status of outbreaks, a list of current outbreaks is available on the Western Health intranet here. This list is updated daily and should be reviewed as part of the screening process by all areas where patients enter the health service or where staff visit patients at home.

PPE Guidelines

A reminder that there have been some important updates to the Western Health COVID-19 PPE Guidelines and associated posters. Please keep yourselves updated.

Outpatient and home visit screening tool

The COVID-19 outpatient and home visit screening tool is now on our microsite.

Fit-testing for P2/N95 masks

The Western Health fit-testing program, which is part of our Respiratory Protection Program (RPP), is ongoing. Please refer to the RPP guideline for more information. Staff who have already been booked in should refer to this information sheet.

Staff COVID-19 Symptom Check & Attendance Log

A reminder to all staff that the now need only fill out one online log when working on site, as the Daily Staff Attendance Log and Staff Symptom Check (Attestation) Survey have been combined. This means staff no longer have to fill out the paper-based attendance log when you are on site (except for when you are using tea rooms). All staff members, students and contractors working on-site must complete the Staff COVID-19 Symptom Check & Attendance Log before the start of each shift. A list of FAQs about this all-in-one survey can be found here.

COVID-19 Staff Helpdesk

Western Health has a dedicated COVID-19 Staff Enquiries Helpdesk, which is available to both individual staff and managers. Confidentiality is assured.

Email is recommended as the first point of contact where possible:
Emails will be responded to within 24 hours.

Telephone contact: via Switch 8345 6666, choose option 1 for COVID – then request Staff Enquiries Helpdesk.

‘Scrub Em Up With Love’ campaign

Clothing brands Gorman, Princess Highway and Dangerfield have produced 10,000 pairs of scrubs to donate to frontline workers. Some of our very own staff are featured in the campaign, including ICU nurse Emily Short below!

You can nominate Western Health staff to receive some of these donated scrubs at the links below.