August 25, 2021

The COVID leadership team is continuing to review how restrictions will apply to Western Health sites under the COVID Peak (Black) risk rating, which is currently in place for all health services across Victoria. The Department of Health’s COVID risk rating system guides our decisions around important topics such as the use of PPE and visitor restrictions.

As a result, we have made the decision today to update our visitor guidelines to further protect our patients, staff and communities. Effective immediately, the following rules apply:

  • One visitor allowed for permitted reasons (excluding birthing, parents of children and end of life care)
  • Each visit limited to two hours (excluding birthing, parents of children and end of life care)
  • No children under 16 (unless they are the parent of a child or it’s related to end of life care for a parent)

The updated QRG will be available on our COVID microsite later today.

While we are constantly refining our COVID-safe practices at an organisational level, it’s vital we all also focus on what we can do as individuals. Our everyday decisions will make a big difference. Simple tips on keeping safe can be found here.

I want to reinforce my message from yesterday about the importance of being vigilant in tea rooms and break rooms. Please follow the guidelines as detailed in the bulletin below.

Under COVID Peak, we are required to enforce strict limitations around staff movement between sites. Any cross-campus travel must now be approved by an Executive Director, through your line manager. While we understand these restrictions pose significant challenges, limiting healthcare worker movement is one of the best tools we have for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our hospitals and across our communities. PPE is another, and extensive details about current guidelines can found in today’s bulletin.

In other measures that follow the COVID Peak guidelines:

  • face-to-face outpatient consultations and investigations should only occur where absolutely necessary (although exemptions may apply on a case-by-case basis)
  • non-clinical staff who do not work in clinical areas are asked not to visit clinical areas, unless it is essential.

Finally, a reminder to please fill in the daily attestation before every shift, and to check the Victorian Government’s exposure site list several times a day. Currently there are more than 750 exposure sites listed in Victoria, with a large number concentrated in our region. Public transport in Footscray and Melton are among those added this morning.

Thanks for your patience and resilience. Our communities are relying on us, and I’m extremely proud of how everyone at Western Health is responding to the ongoing challenges of this pandemic.




Latest PPE guidelines

Western Health continues to take a precautionary approach with PPE. We are asking that all staff working in clinical areas across all Western Health sites (including staff of Bacchus Marsh, Melton and Caroline Springs) to please continue wearing an N95/P2 mask and eye protection (face shield preferred).

This also applies to all staff working in the community across various settings, regardless of location, and includes staff at our testing centres and vaccination hubs. Staff working in public areas or administration areas where patient care is not being delivered will continue wearing surgical masks and staff alone in an office with the doors closed are still exempt from wearing masks. For staff who work in shared areas (ie. where patients are being treated in administration areas), please err on the side of caution and wear an N95 mask and eye protection given clinical services are being provided.

Please re-familiarise yourself with the PPE educational resources on our PPE site which include posters and videos for staff specifically for N95/P2 masks. Please read the Fit Checking QRG and remember to fit-check your N95/P2 masks at the start of every shift to ensure a proper fit. Staff should remember that unless masks are damp or soiled, they should be worn for the duration of a clinic or shift, or until a break is taken (whichever is shorter in duration) or after performing an Aerosol Generating Procedure (AGP), or when in close proximity to an Aerosol Generating Behaviour (AGB). Review Table 4 of the PPE guidelines here for details on what constitutes an AGP or AGB.

If you haven’t been fit-tested for your N95/P2 mask please make a booking through these links JKWC JKWC1 WCHRESunshine Footscray. (Note: New appointments get booked out very quickly so please frequently check these links). If you can’t find a well-fitting N95/P2 mask while you wait for your fit-testing appointment, please wear a surgical mask with a face shield to keep yourself safe. Please refer to this process for escalating concerns regarding a poorly-fitting N95/P2 mask. For any questions regarding fit-testing please email covid.fittest@wh.org.au or for urgent queries, call Helen Morton on 0421 977 979.

Our PPE supply teams are working around the clock to ensure enough of the right type of PPE is delivered to staff. Sometimes, different types of N95 masks (various brands) or isolation gowns (blue and white ones) will be delivered or used during fit-testing. All PPE supplies are checked by our PPE team and this is the stock we receive from the state supply centre. We appreciate staff being patient during this process and want to reassure you that the PPE brands we deliver are appropriate and safe for use. In the case of masks, this is why regular fit-checking is important.

Please contact Dr Paul Eleftheriou at paul.eleftheriou@wh.org.au if you have any questions about this change or the Western Health PPE guidelines.

Tea rooms and break rooms

Any area of the organisation where you remove your PPE is an area of increased risk. Tea rooms are one such area where staff will remove their PPE to eat meals and have a drink- and this is an area of risk.

All staff are asked to:

  • Complete the breakroom logs each and every time they use a tea room. This is essential to ensure effective contact tracing can be conducted by the Infection Prevention team, so we ask staff to record to the minute when they entered and left tea rooms.
  • Ensure density limits are not exceeded and where possible, try to keep numbers in the rooms below the density limits. One way of doing this is via staggering breaks.
  • Adhere to safe use of tea rooms and break areas as outlined in the Use of Break and Rest Areas QRG.

Contacting staff enquiries

Email whscovid-19staffclinicenquiries@wh.org.au and include the following detail:

  • Name
  • Role
  • Work location
  • Exposure site and date/ Enquiry Reason
  • Contact number/s

Asymptomatic testing

Asymptomatic testing continues to be available at the Sunshine COVID Testing Clinic and Footscray Hospital Private Consulting Rooms. Details here.

CHO update

Click here to read today’s update by the Chief Health Officer.