December 16, 2020

As we approach Christmas, our COVID-leadership team has been considering how to facilitate day leave for patients, where appropriate, in the safest way possible. I’m really pleased to say that patients will be able to access day leave over the festive season as long as their treating multidisciplinary team approves AND they do not have any COVID-19 risk factors including:

  • they are not suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19
  • they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms
  • they are not awaiting COVID-19 test results
  • the patient’s family & friends who they will see on day leave do not have any of these COVID-19 risk factors

Patients should be screened via usual processes on their return to hospital.

A handout with tips for patients on how to keep COVID-safe while enjoying the festive season can be found here and is also on our COVID-19 microsite.

Of course it’s not only our patients who are looking forward to Christmas. It’s been an incredibly busy and stressful year for Western Health’s 7500 staff and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you again for your hard work, dedication and professionalism. Our communities depend on us and I’m exceptionally grateful and proud of the way Western Health has responded throughout the pandemic. It’s also important to acknowledge the many family members and friends whose support made it possible for us to go those extra yards in 2020. Next week, the executive team will be providing ‘thank you’ cards for you to give to your loved ones, as a sign of Western Health’s appreciation.

Finally, a reminder that our virtual annual general meeting is being held today at 4pm. Our Board Chair Robyn Batten will be looking back at the year 2020, and our Chief Executive Russell Harrison will be giving some insight into what’s ahead for Western Health.

Following the AGM presentations, we will be acknowledging the incredible contributions and achievements of some of our longest serving staff – those who have reached the 35 year, 45 year and 50 year milestones. The event will finish with the presentation of the Board Chair’s INSPIRE Medal. You can join the virtual AGM via this link  https://bit.ly/WH-AGM and a recording will also be available on the Western Health website at the conclusion of the event.


Thanks for reading.






COVID-19 Daily Update

  • Number of Respiratory Assessment Clinic presentations yesterday – all sites: 188
  • Numbers of confirmed COVID-19 inpatients: 0
  • Numbers of staff who have tested positive for COVID 19: 189
  • Numbers of staff who are currently on leave for COVID 19: 0
  • Numbers of staff who have been cleared to return to work post COVID 19: 189

Russell's webinar

If you missed out on Russell’s webinar yesterday, you can catch up here

Service outline for December/January

Details about Western Health’s service outline for the upcoming December/January
holiday period can be accessed here. This includes information on any changes to service provision throughout this
time. Please share with your teams and colleagues and distribute paper copies in areas that do not
have access to email.

Marion's Christmas party advice

Staff cannot congregate at work for Christmas gatherings this year, due to current COVID-19 guidelines. However if you are planning any events outside work, whether they be with family or colleagues, please do so in a COVID-Safe manner. Our Head of Infectious Diseases, Dr Marion Kainer, has been kind enough to put together some Christmas gathering tips for us all to follow:

  • Outside is your friend! Consider an outdoor venue, where the risk is 20 times lower than indoors
  • If inside, ensure you follow the density guidelines: 1 person per 4 square metres
  • The larger the number of people present, the greater the chance that someone could be exposed – and infected. Consider hosting multiple smaller gatherings, rather than a large gathering involving an entire team
  • Limit the time people are meeting together. Consider a shorter gathering over a set period of time
  • Avoid noisy venues. People singing or raising their voices will increase aerosol generation.

COVID-19 De-Isolation Process

Western Health’s clinical guidelines for the COVID-19 de-isolation process, as overseen by Paul Eleftheriou and Shane Crowe, are regularly reviewed and updated. Please click here  for full details.

Visitation guidelines

Western Health’s visitor restrictions have been implemented to keep the community safe while supporting the provision of the highest level of care during the COVID-19 pandemic. These restrictions are consistent with Department of Health and Human Services guidance and Hospital Visitor Directions issued by the Victorian Chief Health Officer.

Please click here for Western Health’s current visitor guidelines.

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.

Workplace restrictions and room bookings for 2021

Western Health’s COVID-19 leadership team continues to review workplace restrictions across our sites. All decision making follows these key principles:

  • Patient, staff and visitor safety remain the priority
  • There is a need to ensure physical distancing whenever practically feasible
  • Where safe, we are working to recommence all aspects of clinical care that may have been paused during COVID
  • Staff who can work from home should continue to work from home
  • Meetings and training should be conducted via electronic means, whenever possible.

Movement between clinical environments and across sites should be minimised, whenever possible, through the ongoing use of team structures and Zoom for meetings. However, as services increase, for example elective surgery, we understand it may be unavoidable for some staff to travel between campuses for essential services. Please discuss with your line manager if you need to work across campuses.
Face-to-face education for skills acquisition, which forms an important part of clinical training, can also now resume – as long as COVID-Safe principles are adhered to at all times. While we continue to encourage the majority of education and training be delivered via electronic platforms such as the new WeLearn site, we understand that important skills and competency-based education – which has been significantly restricted during COVID-19 – is best delivered face-to-face.
There are limited education and training spaces available for booking at the current time as many rooms are still being used for other purposes. Work is underway to review available bookable space in 2021. In the interim, bookings for a WCHRE room for face-to-face education sessions during December or January can be made via EMS.