May 28, 2021

Today I have important updates about the use of PPE across our sites, as well as various changes that are being implemented under the Department of Health’s COVID Active (red) rating for health services, such as limits to visitors and elective surgeries. These changes are detailed below.

First, I want to thank our very hard-working teams in the Western Public Health Unit (WPHU), vaccination hubs and testing clinics. The WPHU is taking a very strong lead in the contact tracing processes across Melbourne. Our vaccination hubs well and truly broke their own records yesterday, with 2021 COVID vaccines delivered at Sunshine Hospital and 1571 at the Melbourne Showgrounds. And our COVID testing teams conducted 1607 tests across all sites. This is an extraordinary effort. Well done!

As you will be aware, the list of exposure sites continues to expand. Several sites from our region have been added over the past 24 hours. Please continue to check this list. If you or a household contact have been at one of the Tier 1 exposure sites, please follow the directions on the Department of Health website regarding isolation and testing. Do NOT attend work and contact COVID Staff Enquiries at whscovid-19staffclinicenquiries@wh.org.au

Finally, I want like to remind all staff that Western Health’s Employee Assistance Program is available to any of you, at any time. The current COVID outbreak – and lockdown – comes after an incredibly stressful year in 2020. I don’t for a moment underestimate the pressure you have been under during this pandemic, both personally and professionally. Please seek support if you need it. And please do your best to support your colleagues. Our confidential counselling can be accessed by calling 1800 099 444 or emailing work@caraniche.com.au
The Wellbeing and Support section of our COVID microsite is another great resource for us all.

Thanks for reading. Please take the time to go through today’s updates, as detailed below.



PPE changes

The minimum PPE requirements for all staff is a surgical mask at all times, plus eye protection (safety goggles or face shields) in all clinical areas. Staff must now wear an N95 mask for any interaction with a patient that has suspected (low risk or high risk), confirmed COVID-19 or is in quarantine.

All staff in Emergency Departments must now wear N95 masks, in addition to other Tier 3 PPE requirements, as they have been designated as high-risk clinical areas. All patients are encouraged to wear masks, where tolerated.

Please review the latest guidelines and PPE Tier poster at this link for more detail.

Please remember infection prevention essentials such as hand hygiene, physical distancing, reducing face-to-face contact where appropriate, and reducing non-essential travel between campuses. Staff should not eat or drink in clinical areas and sign in/out of common staff areas.

If staff need additional PPE, follow this link for instructions. We are also encouraging staff to get fit-tested for their N95 masks, and can make bookings for Footscray here and for Sunshine here.


Under the Department of Health’s current COVID Active (red) rating, we are further restricting visitor access to our sites today. This decision is not made lightly – it’s done with the safety of our patients, staff and communities as the top priority.

Visitors are only permitted in the following circumstances:

Reason Duration
Paediatric Patients:

Parents/guardians of a child who is a patient in hospital

2 parents/guardians allowed, unlimited time
Emotional or social support:

To provide emotional or social support to a patient if this cannot be done electronically

1 person, unlimited time as required to provide support
Critical and end of life care:

To visit a patient whose medical condition is life threatening, is dying and/or receiving end of life care

2 people at one time, unlimited time

A partner or support person for a pregnant woman or patient in birthing or a maternity ward

1 person, unlimited time
ED and Outpatients:

Support for a patient attending an emergency department or outpatient clinic if necessary to support provision of care

1 person, unlimited time

The visitor is learning to support the patient’s care upon discharge

2 people, unlimited time

Exemptions can be made in some other circumstances, and I encourage ward managers to use discretion in implementing these exemptions.

More details can be found in the QRG.

Working from home

Staff who can work from home are encouraged to do so, but all remote working arrangements must be made with line managers. More details here.

Furloughed staff

A reminder to please contact COVID staff enquiries at whscovid-19staffclinicenquiries@wh.org.au if you have been to any of the listed exposure sites or live with someone who has been identified as being at a Tier 1 exposure site.
If you have been furloughed as a result of contact with exposure sites, there may be opportunities to help with Western Health’s COVID response and /or work from home while you are unable to perform your usual duties. Please discuss with your line manager.

Vulnerable staff

Western Health has a process in place for identifying staff who might be at greater risk of serious illness due to COVID. These groups include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 and over, people aged 65 and older with chronic medical conditions, people aged 70 and over, people with compromised immune systems and people who are pregnant. More information can be found in this QRG.

Staff who fit into these categories should discuss the guidelines with their line manager and contact the COVID staff enquiries at whscovid-19staffclinicenquiries@wh.org.au

If you filled out a checklist for vulnerable staff members during last year’s COVID outbreak, we ask that you fill the form out again this year.

Elective surgeries

Under the Department of Health’s current COVID Active (red) rating, elective surgeries at Western Health (and all Victorian health services) will be limited to Category 1 and Category 2A only, from 5pm today.