September 30, 2020

Minimising risks to our staff, patients and visitors has been at the very centre of Western Health’s response to COVID-19, ever since the outbreak of the pandemic. For this reason, Western Health continues to support our staff by providing asymptomatic staff testing. While the focus is on staff working in wards with higher proportions of COVID-19 patients, I’d like to remind you that asymptomatic testing is available to any concerned staff members working in other areas of our health service.

Asymptomatic staff testing is available at:

  • Footscray Hospital in the Private Consulting Rooms, Wednesdays and Fridays – 7am to 5pm
  • Sunshine Hospital Respiratory Assessment Clinic every day (opening hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday – 9am-7pm; Tuesday and Thursday – 7am-7pm)

In addition to this, communication has gone out earlier today requesting all staff who have attended wards 2G and 3E at Sunshine Hospital since September 16 present for asymptomatic testing as soon as possible. This is following of two staff members testing positive for COVID-19.


Also today, and following the Premier’s recent announcement that visitor guidelines at hospitals could be slightly relaxed, we are pleased to advise the following:

  • one visitor per patient, once a day, for a maximum of two hours, when an exemption is granted for care, support or compassionate reasons
  • our visiting hours are 4pm-8pm
  • two parents, carers or guardians allowed in newborn services and in the children’s ward.

Arrangements for visitors are still to be made by contacting the nurse in charge of the patient’s ward, as some areas cannot allow visitors at this time due to the higher risk among their patients. In addition, names of visitors need to be provided to our staff who monitor entry to our hospitals at this time.

Western Health is taking a cautious approach to visitors as we are caring for a number of COVID-positive and suspected COVID patients across our hospital sites and the risk might be higher than in some other health services. A reminder that visiting is allowed “for the purposes of providing emotional, cultural, spiritual or social support to the patient that cannot reasonable be provided by that person via electronic or other non-contact means”.

At Western Health, we understand many patients need and value visitors and their presence can actively help us in care for that patient. Please do take whatever steps possible to enable visitors for your patients, including extended visiting where allowed due to exceptional circumstances, as outlined in the guidelines. Further details can be found in the visitor fact sheet and visitor checklist.


I’m also pleased to advise that our new Western Health fit-testing program is progressing well, with P2/N95 fit-testing having been performed on more than 40 staff so far. This is part of our Respiratory Protection Program (RPP) and involves an accredited occupational hygienist working on-site with individual staff to confirm how to achieve the best fit of the various P2.N95 mask model. Staff in high-risk roles in high-risk areas continue to be prioritised for fit-testing and the RPP team will reach out to the line managers of these staff groups for bookings. See further details in the bulletin below.

A number of other QRGs have also been updated on our microsite today, including updated case testing criteria, specifically for older patients. Please see the bulletin below for details.

Finally, I’d like to pass on my thanks to everybody across the organisation for your hard work. It has been a particularly busy couple of days, especially across our emergency and surgical departments. Thank you all for your ongoing commitment to our patients and communities.


Lebe Malkoun, Acting Executive Director Operations

COVID-19 Daily Summary

  • Number of Respiratory Assessment Clinic presentations yesterday – all sites: 237
  • Numbers of confirmed COVID-19 inpatients: 6
  • Wards/areas closed due to outbreaks: nil
  • Numbers of staff who have tested positive for COVID 19: 189
  • Numbers of staff who are currently on leave for COVID 19: 4
  • Numbers of staff who have returned to work post COVID 19: 185

P2/N95 fit testing

The Western Health fit-testing program, which is part of our Respiratory Protection Program (RPP), is progressing well. Please refer to the RPP guideline for more information on the program and an information sheet for staff who have been booked in.

You would be aware that there are several different types and sizes of masks. Regular fit-checking of your P2/N95 masks still remains a very important process. This page includes posters that will help staff perform regular fit-checking of their P2/N95 masks. A P2/N95 fit-checking flowchart has been developed for staff who may fail fit-checking of available P2/N95 mask models. This flowchart can be found here and guides staff through an in-hours and after-hours process and includes a link for line managers to refer their staff for fit-testing if appropriate. Please also visit the PPE page for educational resources, including videos and posters.

COVID-19 case testing criteria

In response to clinician feedback the Western Health COVID-19 case testing criteria has been revised. Testing of older patients may be considered when presenting with other atypical symptoms including functional decline, delirium, exacerbation of underlying chronic condition, falls, loss of appetite, malaise, nausea, diarrhoea and myalgia.

Find the updated QRG here.

Update to Visitor Guidelines

Western Health’s current visitor guidelines allow:
  • One visitor per patient, once per day for a maximum of 2 hours when an exemption is granted for care, support or compassionate reasons
  • Our visiting hours are between 4pm-8pm
  • Two parents, carers or guardians allowed in newborn services or the children’s ward

Further details can be found on the microsite, including in our updated visitor fact sheet and visitor checklist.

Student clinical placements

Updated guidelines regarding student clinical placements during COVID-19 can be found here.

Critical Care Outreach Team

The ICU LN team, Intensive Care Registrar and CCU Nurse Team have combined to support all rapid clinical responses throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. From Monday, 28 September, the ICU Registrar will return to being the Medical support for the ‘Critical Care Outreach Team’, and for all MET no Treating Team codes. The Anaesthetist supporting the CCOR Team are required to return to their substantive role to support the reintroduction of elective surgeries. Anesthetics can still be contacted via the Anaesthetist in charge phone as required. The ICU registrar provides expert clinical support, providing expert medical support and airway management if required to all areas including Emergency Departments. Click here for more details.

Advice to ward visitors during COVID-19

Advice has been prepared for visitors to our wards during COVID-19. Click here for details and please make this important information available to visitors across all our sites.


COVID SHIELD is a COVID-19 prevention study currently enrolling health care professionals across Australia. This clinical trial will assess whether the drug hydroxychloroquine is useful in protecting health care workers who are at risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in their daily professional roles. COVID SHIELD is a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study – the gold standard – and has been reviewed by the Human Research Ethics Committee at Melbourne Health and multiple NHMRC-accredited bodies. It is being led by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in collaboration with major hospitals and health services across the country.

Click here for more information.

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.