Chief Executive COVID-19 Update: 26 February

Message from the Chief Executive

As of today, we have:

  • No COVID-19 positive inpatients.
  • One employee in precautionary quarantine.

In this update, we cover:

  • Update on restrictions
    • Masks
    • Visitation
    • Returning to work
  • Vaccination
  • Phased return of volunteers
  • Outstanding Employee and Student Workplace Declarations – time for action
  • Fit testing
  • Social media policy reminder
  • Shared food and clean workspaces – let’s maintain infection prevention

Update on restrictions
Today the Premier announced that Victoria will return to our previous COVIDSafe settings from 11.59pm tonight.  This easing of restrictions follows low community transmission and reduced exposure risk. While any return to a more normal existence is welcome, we must remember that COVID-19 is still with us.

Key points for Monash Health employees are:

Masks
From 11:59pm tonight, masks are no longer required in health service areas where there is no contact with patients or the public – but only if physical distancing can be maintained.

Please note these essential points:

  • The current rules regarding masks for employees still apply for patient-facing and public areas of the health service. This includes clinical areas, waiting rooms, cafes, and shared corridors. In other words, if you are in an area where the general public or our patients are, then you must be wearing a mask.
  • Masks are not required in non-patient-facing or non-public areas, such as offices or meeting rooms, but only when you can maintain physical distance.
  • Visitors are still required to wear a face mask while at any Monash Health site.

You can find out more about masks here.

Visitation
We appreciate that it cannot have been easy to, at times, disappoint family and friends, and we thank you for protecting our patients and each other throughout the various phases of our visitor restrictions. We are pleased to return to our pre-Christmas visitation rules from 11.59pm tonight, and welcome family and friends who considerably boost our patients’ experience while in hospital.

Changes vary across the health service and will provide for increased visitor numbers and longer visiting hours in many areas.   Please familiarise yourselves with the latest visitor restriction poster.

Return to the workplace
As exciting as the easing of restrictions is, we need to ensure a smooth and safe transition for any employees returning to the workplace. Our project team is developing our remote working model, but we want to hear your views first.

Next week, we will seek feedback from employees who are working or have worked remotely, via a survey, to get a better understanding and develop a model that will suit a broad range of functions.

While this is completed and the results collated, there will be no immediate change to working from home arrangements.

Vaccination
On Monday, Professor Rhonda Stuart received the first COVID-19 vaccination dose in Victoria. This historical moment saw Monash Health kick off our vaccination program for priority Phase 1a employees.

As part of our continuing role in protecting Victoria’s most vulnerable, the first vaccination was given to one of our care recipients at Eastwood Hostel a few hours later. We are proud to say care recipients across five of our residential aged care facilities have now been vaccinated with the first dose.

COVID-19 vaccination is an exciting and topical subject, and it’s encouraging to see our employees are eager to know more and find out how to get vaccinated. We must ensure we vaccinate everyone in priority order and keep our vaccination clinic running smoothly. You must not present for vaccination unless you have an appointment. Managers of priority Phase 1a employees will be discussing the process with their teams; please be patient; you will not miss out.   You can continue to inform yourselves via credible sources outlined in the update and, in particular, the employee vaccination web hub.

What remains vital is remembering that, once vaccinated against COVID-19, you must continue to remain vigilant. This means wearing the correct PPE at all times, getting tested if you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and, if you are tested, not attending work until you receive a negative result.

Thank you for your commitment and dedication during this challenging year. We have a lot to be hopeful for in 2021, and I look forward to Monash Health continuing to lead the way in the fight against COVID-19.

Andrew Stripp
Chief Executive

Key Messages

Phased return of volunteers
Our volunteers play a significant role in providing exceptional patient experiences.   After a long year away from our sites, we will be welcoming a phased return for our volunteers, beginning shortly.  Volunteer co-ordinators will contact relevant areas to arrange for the return of volunteers and discuss their reorientation back to their area or ward.   Please be sure to support and welcome our wonderful volunteers back to Monash Health.

Outstanding Employee and Student Workplace Declarations – time for action
There are still some employees who have not completed the compulsory Employee Workplace Declaration form. All employees and students must complete the declaration, even if Monash Health is your only place of work.

  • Employees can find out more and take action here.
  • Students can fill in the declaration here.

If you have filled in a declaration and your circumstances have changed, please complete the declaration again and notify your manager you have updated your profile.

Managers, we require you to:

  1. Ensure all employees in your cost centre have completed the declaration. Reporting is available here.
  2. Ensure that a declaration is completed for newly recruited employees.
  3. Check the BI Portal weekly to make sure no-one in your team is working in a public exposure site.

Fit testing
Fit testing is currently being rolled out for Monash Health employees, to ensure they are equipped with the most suitable tight-fitting respirators/face masks for their face shape. We are pleased to announce that we have fit tested over 1,000 Monash Health employees as of this week, and we are on track to fit test 8,000 employees by June 2021.

Fit testing has begun at Dandenong Hospital and was successfully completed at Chestnut Gardens Aged Care Home. Dandenong Hospital joins facilities at 20 Wright Street Clayton (opposite Monash Medical Centre), Casey Hospital Ward D and Moorabbin Hospital to provide fit testing to employees. When fit testing is available for you, you will receive an email with information and instructions on how to book your fit test via your manager. Read more about our Respiratory Protection Program here.

Social Media Policy reminder
With rising media and community interest in Monash Health and our vaccination program, we understand you may be passionate about sharing your experiences, opinions and advice on your social media accounts. It’s great to witness such excitement; however, please be reminded that as a Monash Health employee, you must follow our social media policy.

Shared food and clean workspaces – let’s maintain a clean environment
As we return to a new normal in our business and personal life, we would like to remind all employees that Monash Health remains a higher-risk setting than home or other locations. For this reason, our no shared food policy introduced in March 2020 remains in place.

Also, wiping and sanitising shared areas and equipment, such as WOWs, employee kitchen benches, tables and hot desks, remains vital in infection prevention. Please remain mindful of the space you leave behind for others and ensure you adhere to hand hygiene and the first principles of infection prevention at all times. This is important for all infectious diseases, not just COVID-19.

Continue to take advantage of wellbeing resources
Please 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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