Chief Executive COVID-19 Update: 17 July

Message from the Chief Executive

As of today, we have:
·         Three COVID-19 positive inpatients.
·         Six employees with COVID-19. They are in isolation at home and doing well.
·         81 employees in precautionary quarantine, as a result of three separate potential exposures.
Today’s COVID-19 case numbers are the highest Victoria has seen in a single day since the pandemic began. 428 people have returned a positive test result.
The median incubation period for this virus is five to seven days, with a range of one to 14 days. This means that we are not yet seeing the effect of the Stage 3 lockdowns. We hope that these numbers turn around in the next few days but, of course, there is no guarantee, so we must continue to prepare personally and professionally.
We are also starting to see increasing numbers of COVID-19 positive cases through our local screening clinics.  Not high numbers, but an increase nonetheless.
So, we need to continue to be vigilant and support each other on this journey.
The uncertainty of the current landscape can create concern and anxiety. This is a natural and normal response. While our ability to control what is happening externally to Monash Health is limited, the way we respond to these events is something we can positively manage on a personal and professional level.
If you were unable to attend recent employee forums, I encourage you to watch Dr Sika Turner’s presentation on practical tools to help manage anxiety and improve wellbeing, and Dr David Moseley’s presentation on supporting children and adolescents during COVID-19.
A central theme from these forums is that uncertainty is normal, and a good way to deal with it is to focus on your key priorities and the habits that serve you well.
In the context of work, this means making sure that we know what we need to do to stay safe and keep others safe. It means impeccable hand hygiene, risk assessment before patient contact, proper shift handovers and appropriate PPE.
Standard Precautions
Standard Precautions are the minimum infection prevention practices that apply to all patient care, regardless of suspected or confirmed infection status of the patient. Simply put, these are:
  • Hand hygiene.
  • Use the appropriate level of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when droplet precautions are indicated, if there is any risk of exposure to body fluids, or if you are unsure.
  • Always take a moment to risk-assess the situation before any patient contact.
  • If you cannot assess the situation, it’s better to be prepared with PPE: “if in doubt, don’t go without”. Please complete your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) refresher training, both online on LATTE and face-to-face, if you have not already done so; details can be found here.
You should also take a moment to review our COVID-19 procedure, which can be found on PROMPT.
It is essential that we all maintain vigilance and awareness of the risk of infection.  Anyone who feels unwell or is displaying any COVID-19 symptoms must not attend work and should be tested.
Should you have any concerns, please talk with your manager or call the Monash Health Employee Hotline on (03) 9594 5815, 7am to 4pm, seven days a week.
Andrew Stripp
Chief Executive
Key Messages
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer thanks you
More than 1,500 Monash Health employees tuned in to Tuesday’s Employee Forum – a record for these events – which featured a special guest in Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton. Professor Sutton provided an update on the state’s response to COVID-19, answered questions and offered a message of thanks. 
Read more here.
Practical Anxiety Management – tools to help manage anxiety
During a crisis like COVID-19, it is normal to feel anxious and uncertain. Last Thursday’s Employee Forum included a presentation on practical tools to help manage anxiety and improve wellbeing. 
Dr Sika Turner, Senior Clinical Psychologist, presented several tools for managing anxiety. These included: 
  • Keeping balance in your life 
  • Physical relaxation 
  • Mental relaxation 
  • Problem-solving 
Residential Aged Care and Aged Home Care Workforce Retention Bonus – are you eligible?  
The Commonwealth Government has announced a Workforce Retention Bonus Grant. The Grant aims to support the aged care workforce, specifically in residential aged care and aged home care. Employees (full-time, part-time and casual) may be eligible for two payments of up to $800 for residential aged care workers, and up to $600 for aged care home care workers. Read more details, including eligibility, here.
The MPCCC Award for innovative mid-career cancer researchers 
Mid-career cancer researchers are encouraged to apply for the 2020 Award for Outstanding Cancer Research. The Monash Partners Comprehensive Cancer Consortium (MPCCC) will be selecting an innovative and impactful cancer researcher who has made significant advances in cancer research in the last 18-24 months. Read more about the awards , including guidelines and eligibility, and how to nominate a researcher.
We need your help to reach our flu target 
We have just one month left to go to hit our 2020 flu vaccine target.  
If you received your flu vaccine outside of Monash Health or are not participating in receiving the flu vaccine, you must still complete the quick online declaration form.  Alternatively, our infection control offices and drive-in immunisation clinic remain open with plenty of stock. 
We encourage all managers to check the status of their team via the Business Intelligence Portal. Remember, 100% employee vaccination or declaration is mandatory.  
Drive-In Immunisation Clinic still open to all
In April 2020, Monash Health set up a Drive-In Vaccination Service, providing whole-of-life immunisations. Since then, the team has vaccinated more than 3,300 members of our community. The clinic has a full range of vaccines on the National Immunisation Program available, including stock of influenza vaccine across all age groups. We encourage all employees yet to receive their flu vaccine to use the service; however, please ensure you complete the online declaration form. Read more here.
COVID-19 leave FAQs updated 
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about leave relating to COVID-19 have been updated on the Monash Health coronavirus website for employees. You will find the most up-to-date answers to questions such as: 
  • What leave am I entitled to if I am required to self-isolate while waiting for COVID-19 test results? 
  • When can I take personal/carer’s leave and what evidence do I need to provide? 
  • I am a casual employee and am required to self-isolate. What leave am I entitled to? 
  • What will I be paid if I am on special leave? 
Monash Health Central Production Kitchen wins AIFST Allergen Bureau ‘Julie Newlands’ Award 
Congratulations to Monash Health’s Central Production Kitchen for winning the 2020 Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST) Allergen Bureau ‘Julie Newlands’ Award. This award aims to promote and raise awareness of best-practice food allergen management in Australia. Read more here.
Focus on mental health this National Diabetes Week   
This week is National Diabetes Week, and the theme is ‘Heads Up on Diabetes’, with a focus on the impact of diabetes on mental health. People with diabetes make 180 extra decisions a day, with more than a third of people saying they feel burned out by managing diabetes. At Monash Health, we offer a wide range of services to patients with diabetes. Learn more here.

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.

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