Chief Executive COVID-19 Update: 8 January

Message from the Chief Executive

As of today, we have:

  • No COVID-19 positive inpatients.
  • 31 employees in precautionary quarantine (19 from NSW and 12 from Vic exposures).

In this update we cover:

  • Greater Brisbane hot spot
  • COVID-19 Vaccination
  • Fit testing
  • Priority testing for Monash Health employees
  • Participants wanted for Respiratory Protection Program research
  • Our visitor restrictions have been updated for clarity
  • Monash Imaging wins at the RANZCR Victorian Trainee Research night
  • Meet Monash Children’s Vascular Anomalies Multidisciplinary Team
  • Two Beyond the Mask Episodes – Cassandra Skilton and Peter Bexley

Greater Brisbane hot spot
Greater Brisbane (Brisbane, Logan, Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands council areas) will enter a three-day lockdown from 6pm tonight to help stop the spread of a highly contagious strain of COVID-19.

If you have been in Greater Brisbane (Brisbane, Logan, Redlands, Moreton Bay, Ipswich council areas) since 2 January, you must:

  1. Get tested immediately.
  2. Isolate until at least 6pm, Monday 11 January. A reassessment will be made on that day as to whether a full 14-day quarantine is required.
  3. Call the COVID-19 employee hotline on 959 45815.
  4. Contact your manager.

Travel to Greater Brisbane should be reconsidered. Restrictions may be imposed at short notice.

COVID-19 Vaccination
Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced that COVID-19 vaccinations are expected to commence in mid-to-late February, dependant on final TGA approval and delivery of vaccinations from suppliers.

It is expected that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will approve the first vaccine, produced by Pfizer/BioNTech, by the end of January and the second, developed by AstraZeneca, in February.

The plan is to have four million people vaccinated by the end of March.

A phased approach will be used to rollout COVID-19 vaccines, as below:

  • Phase 1a: Frontline healthcare workers, aged care and disability care staff and residents, quarantine and border workers;
  • Phase 1b: Elderly adults aged over 70, other healthcare workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged over 55, younger adults with underlying medical conditions, including a disability, high-risk workers including police, fire, defence, emergency services and meat processing;
  • Phase 2a: Adults aged over 50, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged over 18, other critical and high-risk workers;
  • Phase 2b: Balance of adult population, catch up any unvaccinated Australians from previous phases;
  • Phase 3: Children aged under 18, if recommended.

About the Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine
The Pfizer vaccine will be the first COVID-19 vaccine to be used in Australia. The Australian Government will supply vaccine doses after full testing and approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

In the current trials, involving more than 43,000 participants, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been shown to be around 95 per cent effective and was well-tolerated with no serious safety concerns observed.

This vaccine is currently in use overseas, and the knowledge gained from these campaigns will inform the rollout of the vaccine in Australia.

The vaccine is free and is administered in two doses, 21 days apart.

Vaccination for Monash Health employees
We are currently developing a program for healthcare worker vaccination across Monash Health.

This work is being led by Professor Rhonda Stuart.

We will provide regular updates about our vaccination program as it evolves over the coming weeks.

A vaccine is a significant step forward in our fight against COVID-19. However, it is important to recognise that life will not return to normal in 2021. We will be living with the virus for at least another 12 months, so we need to stay vigilant, and follow our processes to keep each other, and those we care for, safe.

Andrew Stripp
Chief Executive

Key Messages

Greater Brisbane hot spot – Advice for screening teams

Fit testing is underway
The Respiratory Protection Program (RPP) combines a comprehensive suite of respiratory protection processes to protect employees from workplace respiratory hazards, including airborne infectious agents, dust and other particles.

The effectiveness of close-fitting respiratory protection equipment (RPE) relies on achieving a seal against the wearer’s face. For this reason, we have introduced fit testing – a process to verify which selected makes, models and sizes of close-fitting RPE best fits the wearer.

Fit testing at Monash Health was successfully piloted with Admission Ward 32 at Clayton last year, and is currently progressing with the following cohorts:

  • Casey – ED, ICU and COVID-19 Admission Wards –- Testing is being undertaken in Level one – Ward D.
  • Chestnut Gardens Nursing Home – Testing on-site.
  • Clayton – ED, ICU and completing Ward 32 – Testing is being undertaken in the ELMHS building (opposite Nesso).

On Monday 11 January, we will begin testing at Chestnut Gardens Nursing Home in Doveton.

The prioritisation of testing has been determined by the PPE Expert Advisory Group based on Victorian Respiratory Protection Program guidelines.

We look forward to sharing further details about the fit testing program, testing dates and locations later this month.

Learn more about the Monash Health Respiratory Protection Program (RPP)

Priority testing for Monash Health employees
Monash Health employees have all-day priority access at our screening clinics. Please bring your Mona​sh Health ID with you.

Participants wanted: Respiratory Protection Program research
The Department of Health and Human Services has engaged Monash Health to undertake a research program investigating the effectiveness of a range of new respiratory protective equipment. We are seeking expressions of interest (EOI) from employees wishing to participate in the research.

The testing is taking place at Casey Hospital. Participation will also meet the annual fit testing requirements for Monash Health employees, which comes into effect in 2021. Learn more here.

Visitor restrictions – updated for clarity
Our visitation guidelines have been updated to improve clarity. You can download an updated visitation poster here.

Monash Imaging wins at the RANZCR Victorian Trainee Research night
First-year Radiology registrar, Reuben Sum, has taken the award for best research project at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists Victorian Trainee Research night. Reuben’s study focused on the effectiveness of Gelfoam surry in reducing the incidence of significant pneumothorax post lung biopsy.

Reuben’s study was one of four presented by the Monash Health Imaging team at the research night. Read more here.

Meet Monash Children’s Vascular Anomalies Multidisciplinary Team
We are proud to have a Vascular Anomalies Multidisciplinary Team at Monash Children’s Hospital, which combines expertise and resources from across the organisation to offer effective, co-ordinated care to patients with vascular anomalies.

In Australia, there are a limited number of facilities which can provide comprehensive treatment and Monash Children’s Hospital offers one of the largest multidisciplinary teams in the country. Learn more about the team here.

Beyond the Mask Episodes – Cassandra Skilton and Peter Bexley
Cassandra Skilton started her role at Monash Health as a Physiotherapist during the lockdown. But that didn’t stop her building rapport with her team and caring for her clients and their families. Watch Episode 15 for insights into how Cassandra used teamwork and technology to great effect from day one at Monash Health.

In Episode 16, Patient Services Assistant, Peter Bexley, shares his stories from working in the COVID-19 Admission ward at Jessie McPherson Private Hospital. Peter discusses the dedication and flexibility that was required to ensure patients received great care as numbers of admissions rose, including vulnerable aged care recipients. Watch the episode here.

Continue to take advantage of wellbeing resources
Take advantage of the health and wellbeing resources we have available for you, including the Call a Psychologist service and the employee assistance program. Don’t forget the basics of your physical health and remember we have links to resources online for you and your teams, including a helpful guide to stretching at your desk, wherever that desk might be.

Ensure you are working to the most up-to-date advice
The information about COVID-19 is changing rapidly. Ensure you are working to the most up-to-date advice by referring to the Monash Health Employee Coronavirus website. To make accessing the site quicker, you can create a shortcut on your smartphone by following these instructions.

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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