As of 3.30pm, Sunday 22 March, the Victorian State Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed he will inform National Cabinet that Victoria will proceed to implement a shutdown of all non-essential services within 48 hours (by Tuesday 24 March). This means school holidays will be brought forward to Tuesday 24 March, but essential services such as supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, freight logistics, petrol stations, and home delivery will continue.
In light of this announcement today, I would like to highlight the ways we continue to prepare ourselves at Monash Health for the increase in COVID-19 positive patients we are likely to care for.
Our Health Incident Command Team and Operations Steering Committee has spent weeks planning and implementing measures to ensure there will be additional capacity for additional patients, and our employees will be supported and protected.
In consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services, the Chief Health Officer, and the Australian Government, we are guided by the latest experience and research to make decisions based on sound criteria.
Our logistics and supply chain team is using technology and the additional capacity from our new Distribution Service Centre. This will ensure you have enough stock, delivered promptly. Read how you can assist by adhering to the new ordering process for critical supplies, and why it is unnecessary and unhelpful to stockpile, below.
Physical distancing is something we are all required to adjust to and is affecting many aspects of our regular workday. Now is the time to prepare ourselves for this. If you haven’t done so already, please ensure you can set yourself up for teleconferencing via our new Webex capability, allowing you to meet safely and virtually.
Anyone who can work from home will be asked to do so this week. Please discuss with your manager the work that you can do remotely and set up for your access now.
We have significantly scaled back our elective surgery for this week so we can focus on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) training and workflows. ‘PPE Super Users’, much like EMR Super Users, will be designated in all work areas. Refresher training is also underway for the use of PPE and associated hand hygiene practices.
In addition, there is a new procedure on PROMPT that provides comprehensive guidance when caring for patients who are suspected of, or have been diagnosed with, COVID-19.
If you believe your clinical or support area requires further preparation, please discuss this with your manager, and it can be escalated to the Operations Steering Committee agenda via your DCO.
As always, I encourage you to reach out to your manager and one another and ensure you don’t forget your self-care needs. We have many support programs which you can find at Monash Care on the intranet. There is also the Monash Health employee COVID-19 hotline on 959 45815 and website.
New COVID-19 testing criteria from Saturday 21 March
The Chief Health Officer has issued new testing criteria for COVID-19. Over the weekend, we have reviewed all inpatients against the new criteria as a precautionary step to ensure our employees and patients are safe. Pleasingly, all those patients who meet the criteria were already managed under the appropriate precautions. A very reassuring result and another thing we can be proud of.
The new testing criteria are as follows:
People without symptoms should not be tested.
Patients who meet at least one clinical AND at least one epidemiological criteria should be tested.
Acute respiratory infection (for example, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat)
- Travelers from overseas with the onset of symptoms within 14 days of return or;
- Close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases with onset of symptoms within 14 days of last contact or;
- Healthcare workers and residential aged care workers meeting clinical criteria or;
- Aged and residential care recipients meeting clinical criteria or;
- Patients who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who meet clinical criteria.
* >38 degrees, without another immediately apparent cause such as urinary tract infection or cellulitis.
The following patients should also be tested:
- Patients admitted to hospital with acute respiratory tract infection AND fever*
Any members of the public who are concerned should consult with their GP or call the Department of Health and Human Services Coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 if they have further question.
New supplementary travel guidance note for Continuing Medical Education – CME
Read the latest advice for CME-related travel following the Commonwealth Government’s highest level of warning (Level 4 of 4) being announced on 19 March 2020.
Supply of essential stock
COVID-19 has seen a significant increase in the demand for some clinical products with broader requirements around COVID-19 impacting on supply chains across Australia. To ensure all our clinical areas and departments are appropriately stocked, we are implementing some small changes for the ordering and management of limited supply and critical stock items.
Download the new critical supply order flowchart now.
Health Purchasing Victoria is supporting Monash Health and other health services to secure the supply of these items in keeping with the demand arising from the phases of COVID-19 transmission within our community.
Monash Health is also managing critical stock items via our new Distribution Service Centre, which has greatly increased capacity. In addition, the technology implemented at the warehouse means lead times are shortened from ordering to delivery. There is no need to stockpile at the ward level, so there are sufficient quantities across all sites, and the risk of theft at the ward level is minimised.
COVID-19-specific Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been agreed and pre-ordered in ample quantities to be available across all sites.
With increased hand hygiene associated with COVID-19, hand sanitiser has become a critical stock item for employees and patients across Monash Health. We commonly use two products for hand sanitisation, which includes Avagard within clinical areas and Cutan across non-clinical areas. Please note that for daily use, Avagard is to be prioritised for clinical areas and will be managed accordingly.
To manage critical supplies and PPE, we will require authorisation from each DCO nominated by site last week. Nominated site contacts are;
- Casey – Claire McDonald
- Dandenong – Zoe Devenish
- Kingston – Julie Galloway
- MMC Clayton – Marg Harley
- Moorabbin – Sue Liersch (Tracey Burke)
- Residential – Jakqui Barnfield
- Community – Helen Richards
Please familiarise yourself with the new process and discuss orders of critical supplies with your nominated DCO.
Theft of ‘essentials’ – Hand sanitiser, toilet paper, masks
The COVID-19 pandemic can cause uncharacteristic behaviours and the development of disappointing practices, such as the theft of hand hygiene products, masks, toilet paper, and paracetamol from our hospitals and community health services.
Unfortunately, some of this activity has occurred, with a small minority of Monash Health employees taking these products out of the workplace.
We know that these occurrences are not indicative of the vast majority of our workforce, who have shown exceptional dedication and integrity toward our patients and each other.
However, as with any unauthorised removal of supplies and equipment, disciplinary procedures are in place to manage these occurrences, because these products are essential to continue to provide safe, high-quality care for our community.
Delivery of essential items is prioritised and swift, please only order what you need, as large amounts of stockpiled products are at risk of theft when stored in clinical or work areas.
Additional cleaning regime now in place
Our Site Services team is working to provide an extra level of active decontamination by increasing the frequency of cleaning at Monash Health sites. Commonly touched surfaces such as light switches, countertops, elevator buttons, doorknobs, and handles in our three Emergency Departments and front-of-house at Monash Medical Centre, Dandenong, and Casey are getting extra attention.
Planning has progressed for implementing additional cleaning in other priority areas and introducing Chloradet to the cleaning at our residential care sites. The increased cleaning routine will reassure our patients, employees, and visitors of our commitment to high quality and safe care.
You can do your part, read the latest PROMPT procedure for COVID-19-specific cleaning of your equipment and clinical areas now.
Update for volunteers
The wellbeing of our volunteers is paramount, so we have decided to undertake the following short term changes to volunteer services at Monash Health commencing 20 March 2020 until further notice.
These changes will be subject to review:
- All Volunteers with chronic health conditions and those over 65 years of age are being asked not to attend volunteer shifts. We will welcome them back when the situation changes.
- Volunteers who have returned from overseas in the past fortnight, or have fever or symptoms of respiratory illness, are being asked not to attend volunteer shifts.
- The following volunteer roles will cease for the time being:
- All volunteer roles at residential aged care facilities
- All volunteer roles at Cranbourne and Springvale Community Health centres and the Kingston Adult Day Activity Service
- All Spiritual Care Services
- All Palliative Care Services
- Some roles at Thomas Street that are not listed in the ‘continue’ section
- Volunteer roles that reduce employee workload in clinical settings may continue and include:
- Emergency Department
- Ward Ambassadors
- Front Entrance Guides
- Intensive Care Unit
Please encourage all continuing volunteers to complete the following learning modules and reading:
- Latte Module: Hand Hygiene
- Latte Module: Infection prevention – transmission-based precautions (please note clinical employees should indicate to volunteers when to use Personal Protective Equipment)
- Ten ways to reduce your risk of coronavirus
Should a ward or department wish to cease a volunteer role that is planned to continue, please discuss first with site management, and notify the relevant volunteer coordinator.
Monash Health Library; your credible source for the latest research
A COVID-19 resource guide is available now on our Library website. This guide provides access to quality research collections, related eBooks, and online resources relating to COVID-19. It will be updated daily. The Library team is here to support your research queries during this time and can answer your requests by library website chat, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 9594 2600. Consult the Library resources now.
Patient privacy remains a priority – always
As the COVID-19 disease progresses within our community, many will be curious about details – who, what, where, when, etc., and no doubt the ‘chatter’ on social and mainstream media will intensify. We urge you, however, to remember our patient privacy and confidentiality policies. These still apply when accessing patient records and information, be they coronavirus or otherwise. Our community needs to know we can be trusted with their personal details.