August 17, 2020

Today I’m pleased to let you know that the number of COVID-positive inpatients at Western Health is currently 64, which is the lowest we’ve seen in a number of weeks. This is in line with the stabilising and decreasing numbers of community transmission cases being reported across the state. While these are signs that the Stage 4 restrictions appear to be working, you’ll be aware that Victoria also hit a tragic new milestone today – 25 COVID-related deaths in the past 24 hours. This is a stark reminder of the ongoing risks of COVID-19 and therefore the high demand for services across our organisation, particularly for the more vulnerable members of our communities.

Our aged care in-reach teams are seeing this high demand first-hand, doing an exceptional job supporting a number of residential aged care facilities across our region. They are working 7 days per week, extended hours and under very challenging and complex circumstances. Every time I receive feedback from families expressing their gratitude that the team has been able to support their loved one to receive care in their home (residential care) rather than in hospital, I know without a doubt that we at Western Health are making a positive difference to our community. Some members of the team will be featuring on the ABC’s 7.30 program tonight.

On-site, we are just as busy. It’s pleasing that a number of staff who have been off on COVID leave are returning this week. To minimise the risk of additional staff and patients testing positive, it is important we all remain vigilant. Our individual responsibilities include maintaining high standards of hand hygiene, checking our temperature, and keeping a minimum physical distance of 1.5m. Please remember that masks should only be taken off when eating and drinking – and they must be replaced once finished. Maintaining your distance in tea rooms and shared spaces is also extremely important.

Finally, I’d like to share some very positive feedback received over recent days about our outstanding intensive care team.

  • COVID-19 patient Tina, who at age 26 became so ill she was admitted to Footscray’s ICU, had this to say to the Herald Sun about the Western Health staff who cared for her:

“I owe the doctors and nurses my life. I can’t describe the love I have for them. The only thing I looked forward to every day… every time they came in, the first thing they would do is hold my hand and give my hand a squeeze. That was the only contact you can get, and the only reminder that you are still here.”

  • Dr Stephen Warrilow, the current chair of the ICU Directors Victoria and former president of the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS) had this message:

“Your team is surely the most experienced in the critical care management of COVID-19 in Australasia. The outstanding outcomes for our ICU patients are largely due to the high standards of care delivered by the ICU multi-disciplinary team. Congratulations to the Western Health crew who have worked so hard for quite a sustained period to manage these challenges in such a professional, gracious and effective manner. The intensive care community salutes you all”.

That’s very well-deserved feedback for our ICU team, but it also applies across our organisation. Given we are running the two busiest hospitals for COVID-19 patients in Australia, Western Health is now considered experts in this area – from pandemic planning and staff management to clinical treatment expertise. Every staff member at Western Health should feel proud of all we have achieved together.

Well done, everyone.





COVID-19 Daily Summary

  • Number of Respiratory Assessment Clinic presentations over weekend – all sites: 465
  • Numbers of confirmed COVID-19 inpatients: 64
  • Wards/areas closed due to outbreaks: Hazeldean
  • Numbers of staff who have tested positive for COVID 19: 155
  • Numbers of staff who are currently on leave for COVID 19: 106
  • Numbers of staff who have returned to work post COVID 19: 49

Compulsory employee survey

A reminder to please take a moment to complete that survey that was sent to your phone on Friday, if you haven’t already done so. The purpose of the survey is to record information about staff who work or volunteer with two or more employers. It is a mandatory requirement, under the direction of the Public Health Commander. This survey is to be completed by all staff, even if you do not work or volunteer for another employer or organisation. If you prefer to complete this on a desktop or laptop or if we don’t have your current preferred mobile number recorded, the survey can be accessed here. The survey only takes a few minutes. Thank you for your cooperation.

COVID-19 microsite

Western Health’s COVID-19 microsite is an excellent resource for staff during this pandemic, particularly the Quick Reference Guide section. Recent important additions include the expert video demonstration for fitting an N95 mask, information about working from home, and keeping safe at work.

COVID-19 Staff Enquiries 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: whscovid-19staffclinicenquiries@wh.org.au
Emails will be responded to within 24 hours.

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

Contacting the PPE team

If you have any questions about PPE, or if you would like to request new face shields or goggles, please contact our PPE Team here.