January 6, 2021

Welcome news this morning that Victoria has recorded just one positive COVID-19 case over the past 24 hours. However, the fact it is a ‘mystery’ case, and not linked to a known cluster, is a timely reminder to us all regarding the need for ongoing vigilance.

Today I’d like to clarify the latest guidance around the management of patients from Residential Aged Care Facilities, in response to a number of inquiries. The following details have been outlined by our expert Infectious Diseases/Infection Prevention teams and are specifically for the management of all patients transferred from a Residential Aged Care Facility (RACF):

  • All patients admitted to an inpatient ward from a Residential Aged Care Facility are to be swabbed for COVID-19, noting a request must be made for a fast-track test and the patient must be isolated in a single room until a negative result is available.
  • If the patient is asymptomatic they are to be allocated to their home ward. If the patient is symptomatic they are to be allocated to a COVID ward.
  • Tier 2 PPE should be worn by staff in line with Western Health PPE guidelines, unless an aerosol-generating procedure (AGP) is being performed, aerosol generating behaviours are anticipated, or if there are additional epidemiological factors to be considered (e.g. known contact to a confirmed case, known outbreak).
  • As part of pre-operative screening, patients identified as coming from a RACF should be swabbed prior to day of surgery, where feasible, regardless of type of anaesthesia. However, if this cannot occur, it should not delay surgery occurring and the swab can be taken on the day of surgery. If the patient requires admission, the patient must be isolated in a single room until a negative result is available.
  • Patients from RACFs who attend outpatient appointments and when there is not a plan to admit the patient to an inpatient ward, the patient should be screened as per COVID screening requirements. They do not need to be swabbed or isolated.
  • In clinical areas such as dialysis and day oncology where patients attend multiple appointments, the patient should be swabbed once a week and otherwise continue with routine screening between appointments. It is preferable that the patient be cared for in a single room and Tier 2 PPE can be worn in these outpatient and day procedure settings.

If you require further advice in relation to the risk assessment of a particular patient, please contact the Infection Prevention team at WHSInfectionControl@mh.org.au

Following other recent updates, I would also like to encourage staff to ensure you are familiar with Western Health’s current guidelines regarding visitor restrictions and the use of PPE. Both guidelines have been revised in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services – and with the health and safety of our patients, staff and visitors as a priority. Among the most recent changes to the PPE guidelines is the requirement for all on-site staff to wear a surgical mask, as a minimum, unless you are eating, drinking or alone in a room.

Finally, if you haven’t had the opportunity to read Monday’s staff memo regarding the prevention of Staphylococcus Aureus Bacteraemia (SAB) infections at Western Health, please do so here.


Maree Pane

Acting Executive Director Operations



COVID-19 daily update

  • Respiratory Assessment Clinic presentations yesterday – all sites: 625

COVID-19 testing at Western Health sites

The Melbourne Showgrounds testing site is operating at extended hours (9.30am-7pm) until Tuesday. From next Wednesday (January 13), the daily operating hours will return to 9.30am-5pm.

The Sunshine Hospital Respiratory Assessment Centre is open until 7pm today. From tomorrow (Thursday January 7) the RAC will be open 9am-10am (staff only) and 10am-6pm (staff and public).

The Sunbury Respiratory Assessment Clinic, at 29 Timmins Street, Sunbury, is open Monday to Friday, 10am – 5.30pm.

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.

Click here for full details.

COVID-19 De-isolation process

Western Health’s clinical guidelines for the COVID-19 de-isolation process, as overseen by Paul Eleftheriou and Shane Crowe, are regularly reviewed and updated. Please click here for full details.

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.