September 3, 2020

Earlier in the year as the COVID-19 pandemic developed, Western Health established a dedicated COVID Command Centre. This Command Centre continues and is, in effect, a team of executives, senior leaders and clinical experts who have formulated, refined and implemented Western Health’s response. Over time we have refreshed Western Health’s existing pandemic plan, established a specific COVID pandemic plan, implemented the incident management team framework for 24/7 coverage and support, and developed a surge plan that articulated how we would respond to increasing inpatient and community demand. All of these elements have been required and have guided our response in what has been Australia’s clear hot zone for COVID infections.

One more recent element of this planning has been the development of the Western Health COVID Safe Plan. Under Stage 4 restrictions, all permitted businesses in metropolitan Melbourne have been required to have a completed COVID Safe Plan in place. These plans set out our actions to minimise transmission of COVID-19 at Western Health, our PPE guidelines, our response to any internal outbreaks, and our response to a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus within our workforce. Our plan reflects our detailed preparations and I feel confident that, in line with other elements of our response, our COVID Safe Plan captures all elements of our strategies for providing a safe place to work and a safe place to receive care. Tomorrow, Safer Care Victoria will be on site to audit us against our COVID Safe Plan – ensuring what we have written in the plan is in place and active across all clinical and non-clinical areas.


The COVID pandemic has resulted in a significant shift in hospital demand. We are observing a significant increase in emergency department presentations relating to mental health and we are seeing demand for sub-acute inpatient care at all of our sites reduce, specifically demand for the bed-based Transition Care Program. At the end of last week, Hazeldean Transition Care Facility had only five inpatients. For that reason, those patients were transferred to the Williamstown Hospital subacute wards over the weekend for the continuation of their transition care.

We anticipate demand for the bed-based Transition Care Program will remain low for at least four to six weeks so have made the decision to close Hazeldean during that period. We will use this opportunity to engage building and engineering consultants to look at the facilities at Hazeldean and explore opportunities for alterations or capital works. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all staff who work at Hazeldean for their flexibility as we continue to offer care to our community throughout this time.


Many of you will have tuned in to Russell’s webinar Tuesday, in which he answered a wide range of questions from staff. If you missed it, please click on the link provided in the bulletin below.


A reminder today about the new resources we have available to help guide staff through the use of PPE. Among them is this poster, which explains which PPE should be used in which circumstances. This can be printed out and distributed.



Finally, I’d like to remind everyone of the importance of remaining vigilant about the risks of COVID-19. We’ve all been very pleased to see the number of community transmissions declining, along with the number of COVID patients needing care at Western Health. However it is vital that we stay the course. I’ve received a number of reports from patients and our community of staff not following the principles of basic hand hygiene and social distancing. This includes reports of clinical staff not changing gloves between interactions with patients. We all have an individual responsibility to keep ourselves, each other, and our patients, safe.

As Premier Daniel Andrews said recently: “We can be hopeful about these numbers. We can be positive about these numbers. But that can’t be accompanied by any sense of complacency.” Let’s follow that mindset at Western Health.

Thanks for reading.




COVID-19 Daily Summary

  • Number of Respiratory Assessment Clinic presentations yesterday – all sites: 255
  • Numbers of confirmed COVID-19 inpatients: 17
  • Wards/areas closed due to outbreaks: nil
  • Numbers of staff who have tested positive for COVID 19: 181
  • Numbers of staff who are currently on leave for COVID 19: 30
  • Numbers of staff who have returned to work post COVID 19: 151

Russell's webinar

Russell has commenced his Tuesday afternoon webinars, which are open to all staff.

They will be held at 2pm each Tuesday and the recordings made available on this site. (Login details will be distributed to all staff each Monday.)

On this occasion, as luck would have it, there was a technical issue and the recording did not commence until three minutes into Russell’s presentation, so our apologies for that.

In the first few minutes, Russell thanked all staff for their hard work and their flexibility in responding to the incredible range of changes and unusual requirements and changes of roles during the past seven months during the pandemic. He also acknowledged the vast amount of work that has continued that does not relate to COVID and the importance of that ongoing work.

Russell also gave a brief overview of the current status of various projects including:

  • ​New Footscray Hospital Project – explaining that evaluation of construction consortium bids is now well advanced
  • Construction of the expanded Sunshine Hospital Emergency Department is well advanced
  • Construction of 52 new acute mental health beds at Sunshine over the next 18 months
  • Melton Hospital – preliminary planning underway
  • EMR – three new modules progressing:
    • ​The first of these, obstetric Digital CTG monitoring, due for implementation by the end of this month
  • Infusions – scheduled for early December but this will not go ahead unless and until there is complete assurance of the safety and readiness to proceed
  • Roster On improvements – to be rolled out across October

The recording picks up where Russell is discussing the EMR changes.​​​  There were a substantial number of questions put to Russell during the webinar, which was approximately 50 minutes long.

Click here to view Russell’s webinar. Password: ^r.0!*ga

P2/N95 mask fit-checking

Western Health is using a range of P2/N95 masks, and all require slightly different techniques for fitting. Please familiarise with the different types here.

PPE updates on microsite

A reminder that the PPE section of our COVID microsite has been updated and now includes an extensive range of resources to help you with the correct selection, and donning and doffing of PPE.

Click here for the latest.

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:
Emails will be responded to within 24 hours.

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