Chief Executive COVID-19 Update: 3 January

Message from the Chief Executive

As of today, we have:

  • No COVID-19 positive inpatients.
  • 14 employees in precautionary quarantine (12 from NSW and two from Vic exposures).
  • Increased our testing capacity to achieve a record number yesterday of 3,706 swabs on the day.

There are 32 active COVID-19 cases in Victoria, an increase of three new cases from yesterday. Twenty-one cases are locally acquired, all of which are linked to the Black Rock cluster. The other 11 are from overseas and in hotel quarantine.

All the locally-acquired cases are within the defined close contacts of this cluster. That means that they are all linked and, as genomic sequencing results have identified, they are connected to the original Northern Beaches cluster. This is helpful in the outbreak management process, as it indicates we are dealing with a known infection source, rather than an unidentified infection source within the community, although the pathway from NSW to Victoria is still under investigation. Christmas gatherings and the holiday season have resulted in a wide area of potential subsequent exposures.

While it is natural that the return of COVID-19 to Victoria will cause concern, the central public health unit together with the regional teams, including Monash Health, are actively managing the outbreak.

We all had expected (and hoped) that we would have a quiet entry into the New Year and we had scaled back our testing capacity accordingly. The quick work of Claire Pierce and our screening clinic teams has enabled us to rapidly respond to the needs of our community, moving from around 400 tests to 3,706 yesterday. This was in part achieved through Claire and the team setting up a new drive through in Parkdale in record time, but largely due to their willingness to rapidly respond, support each other and get the job done.

Understandably, the last few days have been challenging. Community expectations and anxiety are present. If you happen to be one of the people needing to be swabbed or awaiting a test result, please be patient and understand that the teams are doing an exceptional job and, just like you, are determined to provide exceptional care.

I also want to acknowledge and thank Kristy De George and our pathology teams, who have done a remarkable job under pressure and at short notice to ensure we are able to turn the test results around in as short a time as possible.

In closing, I wanted to share a short note I received this morning from Kirsten Holden, Nurse Manager of the Clayton Screening Clinic:

“… I am incredibly proud of my local team and the broader screening service team. At the front line they work in trying circumstances with smiles in their voice behind the masks, shields and hot sticky gowns, to reassure our community during a time of great uncertainty and heightened emotions. We write our names in coloured whiteboard markers on these gowns, making effort to draw smiley faces and personal messages which in the past days have been ‘Happy New Year‘ messages on those hot sticky gowns to help the public to see the person behind the PPE. We look to see the concerned person behind every mask, finding a kind word of reassurance, taking care of the elderly, making playful antics with the youngest of our community. We understand the importance of what we are supporting.

Our team have adapted to the needs of Monash Health & our community throughout 2020 and we are ready to continue to respond, yes the last few days have tried and tested us, it has been tough. As a team working together, supporting each other, having our colleagues back, knowing we need each other to make it work, we do what we do.”

Andrew Stripp
Chief Executive

Key Messages

Stay up-to-date with public exposure sites

As contact tracing continues, the list of public exposure sites is changing rapidly. It is important that you check the list regularly.

Please check the current list of public exposure sites daily, and discuss it during huddles and handovers. 

Daily attestation questions have changed

All workers at Monash Health sites must complete a daily attestation (statement) that they are well and haven’t been exposed to potential COVID-19 infection, before commencing a workday on-site.

The questions asked in the daily attestation have been updated to reflect the NSW and Victorian clusters.

You must read the current list of public exposure sites every day before completing your attestation.

Changes to Residential Aged Care visitation

On Friday we made precautionary changes to our visitation guidelines. We have now made further changes to Residential Aged Care visitation.

These changes reduce the number of visitors per Aged Care resident to one, while increasing the length of visits to two hours.

Visitors may find these changes challenging – please explain to them the need to keep our patients safe. Discuss any exceptional circumstances with your manager and the care team to make the best decision for our patients.

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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