January 4, 2021

Welcome to the first Operations Bulletin of 2021. I’d like to say a big thank-you to everybody who worked over the festive season, which was particularly busy across all our sites. And to those of you who took some well-earned leave, I hope you were able to relax with loved ones.

As you’re all aware, the current COVID outbreak in Victoria has caused the State Government to reassess many aspects of the pandemic response. Western Health’s COVID-19 leadership team has been closely monitoring all developments and is communicating regularly with the Department of Health and Human Services.

In line with changes announced by the DHHS over the weekend – and with the safety or our staff, patients and visitors as top priority – we have revised and updated our visitation guidelines. Effective immediately, visitors to patients at Western Health sites will be allowed to stay for a maximum of one hour. Patients will still be allowed two visitors per day, however different rules apply for visitors to patients who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. Women on maternity wards are permitted one support person for an unlimited time between 8am-8pm. Patients under 18 are permitted two visitors for an unlimited time. And adult patients in the Emergency Department are permitted one support person for an unlimited time. For full details, click here.

With demand for COVID-19 testing reaching very high levels over the past few days, Western Health has responded by increasing capacity at our Sunshine Hospital and Melbourne Showgrounds testing sites. Our staff managed near-record rates of testing at the Showgrounds over the weekend, with 1027 and 995 tests completed on Saturday and Sunday respectively. What an excellent effort!
Please see the bulletin below for details of our increased operating hours at our testing sites.

A reminder today that all Western Health staff must, once again, wear masks at all times when you are indoors on Western Health premises, unless you are the only person in a room, or when you are eating or drinking. Please also remember to continue completing your online attestation, which would provide vital information to our contact tracing team in the event of an outbreak.

It’s also very important that we all keep a close eye on the DHHS’s list of public exposure sites, which is being updated several times a day. If you have visited any of the listed exposure sites, please contact our COVID staff enquiries clinic via email at whscovid-19staffclinicenquiries@wh.org.au, as a matter of priority.

Finally, if you didn’t see Western Health staff starring on the front page of The Age on their first edition of 2021, click on the link below. Intensive care specialist Dr Nicky Dobos summed up beautifully how the team at Western Health navigated 2020: “We’re used to operating in very stressful environments, but I do believe it was the psychological support we all gave each other through the peak of the pandemic in Victoria that allowed us to get through.”

Let’s keep that up this year.


Maree Pane
Acting Executive Director Operations


COVID-19 Daily Summary

  • Respiratory Assessment Clinic presentations over the weekend – all sites: 2329

Increased hours at Western Health's testing sites

Sunshine Hospital’s Respiratory Assessment Clinic will be open from 9am-7pm today, tomorrow and Wednesday. (The clinic will be open for staff only from 9am-10am).

The Melbourne Showgrounds testing site will be open 9.30am-7pm until Friday.

We will continue to monitor demand for testing and adjust hours to support timely access to testing for staff. Staff should continue to seek testing for even the mildest of symptoms.

Patients from residential aged care facilities

In line with DHHS guidelines, all patients admitted from residential aged care facilities are to be swabbed for COVID-19 and, at a minimum, quarantined in a single room for 14 days from admission. If symptomatic, they should be treated as a high risk suspect COVID-19 case. Tier 3 PPE should be worn by staff looking after these patients.

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: 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.