Chief Executive COVID-19 Update: 18 March

Download, print and share the latest Chief Executive COVID-19 update by clicking here. 

With COVID-19 now a part of our daily life and conversations for the foreseeable future, we each play an important role to protect and care for our community and each other and manage the risks as they present themselves.

To do this, we need to ensure we are working with the latest and most informed advice. It is important to regularly check the online resources and discuss issues and concerns with your colleagues and manager. In addition, I will provide a summary of key points in this update.

A reminder that as advice and information evolve, the information in these updates will also change. Please ensure you read updates and check for the latest information from credible sources.

Above all, do not forget to care for yourselves and each other throughout these times and reach out for assistance should you need it.

Andrew Stripp

Chief Executive

All managers are requested to share these updates with their teams and discuss at stand-ups and handovers. Please print a copy and display it in communication books and on employee noticeboards.

As advice and information evolve, please consult the latest updates and visit the Department of Health and Human Services and Monash Health COVID-19 website for employees regularly for the latest.

Protecting the vulnerable; Limiting patient visitors

Protecting our patients who can be vulnerable to infections during a hospital stay, or when in residential care is paramount.

Following the latest advice, we will be restricting visitation from families and friends to the following number of visitors and times:

Adults Acute and Subacute – 8.00am to 10.00am and 5.00pm to 7.30pm; two visitors per patient at any one time

Maternity – 8.00am to 8.00pm; limited to partner only (grandparents, friends and siblings/children under 16 not permitted)

Newborn – anytime unless unwell; limited to parents only (grandparents, friends and siblings/children under 16 not permitted)

Paediatrics – parents can visit anytime unless unwell; all others 8.00am to 10.00am and 5.00pm to 7.30pm; two visitors per patient at any one time (grandparents, friends and siblings/children under 16 advised to stay away)

ICU – One visitor per day, per patient for a maximum of 10 minutes

Residential Care Recipients – 1.00pm to 5.00pm; one person per care recipient per day, for up to one hour. Visitors under 16 not permitted.

Please restrict entry for any visitor if they are unwell or showing signs of COVID-19 infection.

If you believe more restrictive arrangements are needed in your area, please discuss this with your manager who can raise it with the Hospital Incident Command Team.

Of course, exceptional circumstances may occur that require an exemption.

We understand this may cause disappointment, but please explain these measures are necessary to keep our patients, residents and employees safe.

Should I stay, or should I go? Travel and leave information

Information regarding COVID-19 and travel for Monash Health employees is rapidly evolving. For the latest updates, please check the COVID-19 employee overseas travel page here or Smartraveller website.

We’ve summarised some of the latest information below:

The Australian Government has advised all Australians against travelling overseas indefinitely. This advice applies regardless of your destination, age or health. This means all approvals for any business-related travel overseas, including CME travel are now rescinded.

If you travel to any overseas destination against the current advice of the Australian Government, you must take personal leave for the 14-day isolation period on your return. Your leave can be paid or unpaid if you do not have enough paid leave or annual leave. You are not entitled to special leave.

All employees returning from overseas are required to self-isolate for 14 days and must not attend work for 14 days after their return.

If you were required to self-isolate due to travel before Monday 9 March access to paid special leave is available for 14 days while you remain asymptomatic, i.e. if you begin to show symptoms, you are required to be tested. If you test positive for COVID-19, you can access personal leave for the duration of the illness.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you must access personal leave for the duration of the illness and until the risk of infection has passed. If you do not have enough personal leave to cover the period of absence, other paid and unpaid leave entitlements can be used (such as annual leave). Access to further paid special leave will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Keeping everybody safe; Don’t come to work if you are unwell

We know Monash Health employees are an extremely dedicated and committed workforce and will go above and beyond to serve our community. However, COVID-19 poses a real threat to our most vulnerable Victorians and can be transmitted by anyone, no matter how well-intentioned they are.

Please keep yourself, your colleagues and our community safe and do not come to work if you are feeling unwell.

Immediately notify your manager if you:

  • have recently travelled overseas, or
  • have been in close contact with someone who is infected with COVID-19, or
  • are suffering, or have suffered, flu-like symptoms – sore throat, cough, fever, difficulty breathing

Learn more about self-isolation on the Victorian Department of Health and Human Service’s website.

Employee-only COVID-19 screening sessions now available

COVID-19 screening for Monash Health employees is now available at the Clayton Screening Clinic at employee-only sessions from 8.00am – 10.00am, seven days a week.

In the coming weeks, screening for employees will also become available at our Berwick and Dandenong clinics. If you cannot make the employee-only morning sessions, please make yourself known to clinic employees and they will prioritise you where possible.

MANAGERS: New KRONOS codes for COVID-19-related leave

Payroll have created an additional Kronos leave type for use when employees are on COVID-19-related leave.

The new Kronos code is called ‘SICK LVE – COVID Isolation Sick’ and is immediately available to all Kronos managers. Please enter into the schedule or timecard when a member of your team is taking sick leave due to COVID-19 or leave due to self-isolation relating to COVID-19. Details can be found here.

Top-of-mind; Your top leave-related questions

We appreciate that you will want to attend work, but this might not be possible due to health or family commitments over the next few weeks. We want you to feel confident about your leave entitlements during what will potentially be a disruptive time.

Many of your questions relating to leave can be answered by reading the COVID-19 employee leave page here. Please reach out to your manager or People and Culture lead at any time.

Here are some of your top questions regarding leave entitlements from the recent employee forums:

What if I am caring for someone who has or is suspected to be infected with COVID-19?

You may access personal/carer’s leave, or other paid or unpaid leave options.

We may be able to consider ‘working from home arrangements’ for some or all of your absence if it is practical and appropriate. Please discuss this option with your manager.

What if I can’t attend work because schools and/or pre-schools are closed due to COVID-19 concerns?

You may access personal leave, which covers sick leave and carer’s leave, annual or other form of paid or unpaid leave.

What if I become sick while at work after exposure to an infected person?

You should be tested for COVID and self isolate until that result is back. If positive, you will need to remain away from work for the period defined by the DHHS. If negative, you can return to work when well. You may access personal leave, which covers sick leave and carer’s leave, annual or other form of paid or unpaid leave.

When can I come back to work?

If you tested positive for COVID 19
The department will determine when a confirmed case no longer requires to be isolated in hospital or in their own home, in consultation with the treating clinician to ensure all the following criteria are met:

  • You have been afebrile (without a fever) for the previous 72 hours, and
  • At least ten days have elapsed after the onset of the acute illness, and
  • There has been a noted improvement in symptoms, and
  • A risk assessment has been conducted by the department and deemed no further criteria need to be met.

If you are in isolation due to travel or exposure:

You can return to work if you’ve experienced no symptoms, and your 14-day isolation period is complete.

If you are caring for a person with COVID-19:

You can return to work if you’ve experienced no symptoms for 14 days following the end of the infective period of the person, (e.g. child is sick for 5 days, you can return to work 14 days after this period).

Rethinking the meeting; Face-to-face meeting protocols

COVID-19’s spread is accelerated through face-to-face contact. Before booking a meeting room and asking your colleagues and team to attend, ask yourself the following questions:

Is the meeting essential right now?

Is the meeting critical, or can this be deferred? If you cannot defer the work, think about different ways you can accomplish this without calling a group together; email, teleconference, video conference.

Who really needs to be there?

Be ‘forensic’ in determining who really needs to attend. Minimise the number of people required to attend from one area or team to reduce the risk of an entire group or team being sick.

Do you need to meet in person?

Organise meetings where possible by telephone, Blue Jeans, WebEx (details coming soon) video conference. Schedule as many meetings as possible using technology for ‘virtual’ meetings.

How many is too many people in a meeting?

Reorganise all face-to-face meetings requiring more than 15 people in attendance – either teleconference or video conference.

Does the meeting room allow enough distance, greater than 1 metre, between the participants?

If not reschedule the meeting to a larger venue or either teleconference or video conference.

Can we have shared food or platters in meetings?

No. Please ensure that there is no food sharing during meetings via open platters of sandwiches etc. This includes individually wrapped chocolates, lollies or bars of any kind!

Should we sanitise our hands?

Yes. Meeting organisers must ensure that hand sanitiser is available at the meeting place, and it is used. Please remind people not to shake hands!

Keeping pace; Stay updated on the latest

  • Watch the latest DHHS video: Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Brett Suttons discusses current travel conditions and social distancing.
  • Read up-to-date information specific to Monash Health employees on the COVID-19 intranet site.
  • Consult the DHHS website for daily updates on COVID-19 advice.

Keeping safe; Top tips and reminders

  • Please no food sharing – this includes individually wrapped snacks like chocolates and lollies!
  • Talk to your manager about the possibility of working from home if appropriate.
  • Follow proper hand hygiene practices.
  • Use PPE properly where required at all times. Watch the video.
  • Stay at home and avoid contact with others if you are unwell.

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