Today I’d like to update you about a new Department of Health system that helps health services assess the risk of COVID, and guides our decisions around important topics such as the use of PPE and visitor restrictions. The good news is that Western Health and all Victorian health services are currently at the lowest level of risk – COVID Ready – which puts us in a position to continue to develop COVID-safe strategies across our health service. Full details about this can be found in the bulletin below, and also in this new QRG.
First though, I want to acknowledge Victoria’s recent positive COVID-19 case in the community, and how it’s served as yet another timely reminder for us all to remain vigilant.
The Western Public Health Unit, based at Sunshine Hospital and led by Kate Cranwell and Dr Finn Romanes, has been playing a key role in the contact tracing process around this latest event of transmission. They are a great team, serving our community so well.
Yet it’s important to also remember that responsibility for being COVID-safe – and protecting ourselves, as well as our patients, families and communities – rests with each one of us. While it’s easy to become a little complacent with our overall COVID case numbers very low, I’d urge you to continue maintaining high standards of physical distancing and hand hygiene, and filling out the staff attestation every day you are working on site. Western Health’s COVID microsite remains a great source of information and guidance. Please continue to refer to regularly updated advice about PPE (including arranging fit-testing), Quick Reference Guides and Clinical Guidelines.
Please also check exposure sites, as regularly updated by the Victorian Department of Health, as well as using QR when attending public venues. As Dr Marion Kainer, Western Health’s head of infectious diseases, said in a message to staff recently: “Wherever you go, please scan in with QR codes. This makes a massive difference for contact tracing”.
Thanks for keeping updated.
New COVID risk assessment tool for health services
The Department of Health has recently released a tier-based COVID preparedness system, called the Victorian Health Service Guidance and Response to COVID-19 Risks (VHSGR). Due to the low rates of both total COVID cases and community transmission cases, we are at the lowest Tier 4, or Green Tier, of COVID readiness.
For Western Health, this means we are now moving our low-risk, suspected COVID patients to their ‘home’ wards. High-risk suspected COVID patients will continue to be preferentially admitted to our respiratory wards; 2D at Footscray Hospital and 3F at Sunshine Hospital.
Click here to see Western Health’s new QRG.
Click here for more details on the Victorian Health Service Guidance and Response to COVID-19 Risks (VHSGR).
Changes to visitation
In the state of COVID Ready, there has been a further relaxation of Western Health’s visitation guidance, now permitting most inpatients to have two visitors at a time throughout visiting hours, rather than only two visitors per day. In addition, there continue to be exemption pathways available to take into consideration specific circumstances and ensure our patients receive the support they need. The updated visitation guidance is found here.
Melbourne Showgrounds COVID vaccination hub
Great news today with the opening of Western Health’s mass vaccination hub at the Melbourne Showgrounds. The new hub, led by NUM Allison Lamb and under the guidance of Lisa Smith, has 50 cubicles and will, ultimately, be offering both Pfizer and Astra Zeneca vaccinations. This follows the great success of our Melbourne Airport and Sunshine Hospital vaccine hubs. Well done, everyone!
Click here for opening hours and directions.