December 2, 2020

With Victoria achieving 33 days of no new cases today, 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 from next Monday, December 7.

Please note office space for staff who provide clinical care to patients will be prioritised in the requests for the use of on-site space. Due to physical distancing requirements, there may be an ongoing requirement to allocate clinical staff space in what were previously general office spaces, meeting rooms and education rooms. We appreciate your understanding as we navigate bringing more and more staff back to our campuses.

The recent easing of restrictions has meant that the cafes have been able to re-open seating to both staff and the public. We have become aware that some staff are moving tables and chairs around and sitting in large groups in the cafes. The cafes are required to operate in line with the Chief Health Officer’s guidelines and have been set up with physical distancing and maximum numbers in mind. We request that staff do not move tables and chairs around and are mindful of maintaining 1.5m from others when sitting in the cafes.

As we approach the festive season, we are continuing to receive a number of questions about team Christmas gatherings and whether these can be held this year. While we understand that teams want to come together, particularly after such a tough year, unfortunately it won’t be possible to congregate in large groups on site with the current COVID guidelines. If you are planning events outside of work, whether that’s with family or colleagues, please try to be COVID Safe. Our Head of Infectious Diseases, Dr Marion Kainer, has been kind enough to put together some Christmas gathering tips – listed in the bulletin below – for us all to follow.

Finally today, along with Director of COVID Response Kate Cranwell, I’m really pleased to announce the appointment of Debra Sloggett, Brandon Nguyen and Leonor Galang to temporary, yet vital, leadership roles within our COVID Response team. For full details, see the bulletin below.


Thanks for reading.



COVID-19 Daily Summary

  • Number of Respiratory Assessment Clinic presentations yesterday – all sites: 224
  • 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

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. Dr Marion Kainer has put together these tips:

  • 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.

P2/N95 fit-testing - bookings open

More than 500 staff have now been through Western Health’s P2/N95 fit-testing program – and we are now taking more bookings. We are still prioritising staff working in high-risk areas however, staff who may be required to wear P2/N95 masks are also required to be fit tested.

To book a fit test at either Sunshine or Footscray, please click on the links below:

Footscray Hospital Fit Testing

Sunshine Hospital Fit Testing

COVID Response Team leadership appointments

Debra Sloggett has been appointed as Nurse Unit Manager of the Showgrounds Respiratory Assessment Clinic (RAC).  As a registered nurse and midwife, Deb joins the team with a wealth of experience including as Unit Manager for an antenatal/post natal unit and Quality Coordinator at Mercy Public Hospitals.  More recently Deb has frequently acted as nurse in charge at the Showgrounds RAC.  Deb will be commencing in this role on 7 December 2020.

Brandon Nguyen has been appointed to the role of ANUM for RAC.  Brandon has been involved throughout Western Health’s COVID response, including in the early stages of setting up the Sunshine Hospital RAC, at the Community pop up clinics and in high rise tower testing.  We are looking forward to Brandon stepping into this leadership role on 18 December 2020.

Leonor Galang has been appointed to the Nurse Unit Manager role of the Sunbury Respiratory Assessment Clinic.  Leonor has held an ANUM position at Western Health since 2012 and has more recently been Acting NUM of the 3E COVID ward during the second wave.  Leonor will bring this wealth of experience to her new role at the Sunbury RAC.  Leonor will be commencing in this role in late December.

Kate Cranwell and I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Jo Cocks and Kylie Roper for the amazing contribution that they have made to the COVID response team at Western Health.  Kylie and Jo joined the team during the peak of the second COVID wave and were instrumental in coordinating pop-up community testing, tower testing and more recently as the Site Leads at the Showgrounds RAC. Congratulations to both Kylie and Jo for the remarkable work that they have achieved during this challenging time.

EMR Infusions

The EMR Infusion Enhancement Project, introduced this week, is converting infusion workflows from paper to the EMR. It will standardise infusion ordering, administration and documentation across the organisation – all with the aim of providing Best Care. This new functionality will also make it easier for our health care professionals to access the most up-to-date, accurate and legible patient information, all in the one place.

Please don’t hesitate to ask questions to ensure you can provide Best Care to our patients. The following support is available for clinical staff as you adapt to the infusion workflow changes:

  • This week, you will see EMR Super Users (wearing blue T-shirts) across all sites, available to answer any of your questions.
  • You can also contact the EMR Virtual Hub through the WH Service Desk:

– Call extension 56777 – when asked, press #1 for EMR (Virtual Hub) and follow the prompts

– Email servicedesk@wh.org.au

– Self Service Portal servicedesk.wh.org.au

For a full list of EMR Infusions Enhancement resources, visit https://digitalhealth.wh.org.au/emr-infusions-enhancement-project/

PPE guidelines update

As announced in last week’s bulletin we have introduced new guidelines regarding eye protection. Eye protection is still required as part of standard precautions, for staff working with patients suspected of COVID-19 and for staff working with patients undergoing aerosol generating procedures (AGBs), or aerosol generating behaviours (AGBs). Outside of these areas, the use of eye protection is now optional. Masks remain mandatory for all staff in all indoor settings. The new PPE QRG is now available on the microsite.

Visitor guidelines

Western Health has implemented visitor restrictions 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.