COVID-19 Alert 27 May 2021 – Victorian lockdown

The Victorian government has announced a seven-day circuit breaker lockdown from 11.59pm tonight (27 May) to help curb the current coronavirus outbreak.

Going back into lockdown is not what we had hoped for, but it is an important step in keeping our community safe.  Today’s announcement will be difficult for some, and if you’re struggling, please don’t do so alone.  We have a range of support available to you.

There will be five reasons to leave home: food and supplies, authorised work, care and caregiving, exercise, and getting vaccinated. You can read more about the restrictions here.

It is important to understand that there is no restriction on essential workers (you) from attending work where required. Please carry your employee ID with you when travelling. Where it is operationally viable to perform your role remotely, you should do so. However, remote working arrangements must be approved by your manager.

Please stay up-to-date with the list of exposure sites and take the necessary action if required. If you are unwell, stay home and get tested. Employees have priority access at our drive-through clinics – simply show your employee ID to the traffic controller.

If you have not yet received your COVID-19 vaccination, make a booking today. Vaccines are our pathway back to normal and an important part of keeping you, and those we care for, safe.

Employee Forum – 2pm Friday 28 May
Please join me and the executive team tomorrow afternoon for a special employee forum to discuss the circuit breaker lockdown and the resulting changes at Monash Health.

To ask a question during the event, log on to using your web browser or smartphone and enter the code #MHEF2021

Join the event here. Password: monashhealth | Webex Event ID: 165 463 1078

COVID-19 vaccination expanded to anyone aged 40 years and above
Today, the Minister for Health shared the welcome news that COVID-19 vaccination has expanded to anyone aged 40 years and above. Those aged between 40 to 49 are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine from state-run centres that have the capacity to supply it, with anyone aged 50 or above being eligible for AstraZeneca.

Operational changes and updates
We are making the following changes to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmission, while at the same time providing appropriate care and safety for our patients, employees and visitors.

PPE Tiers have been updated
Our PPE Tiers have been updated – view the latest guidance here.

In addition to the wearing of surgical masks in all settings, there is now the addition of eye protection when caring for COVID-negative patients and residents. This will include employees in the COVID-19 vaccination clinics and centres.

Those working in ED and those working in frontline community centres will wear N95 and eye protection, while those caring for suspected COVID-19 and confirmed COVID-19, and COVID-19 screening clinics will need to wear Tier 3 protection.

Visitor restrictions
From 11.59pm Thursday 27 May until further notice, visitors are not permitted at Monash Health sites except for end-of-life reasons, as a support partner for birth, or a parent/carer to accompany a child.

We know this will be hard for patients and loved ones, but it is necessary to protect patients, healthcare workers, and the community. Where possible, please assist patients to visit ‘virtually’ using phone calls and video chat.

Updated posters and screening advice are available here.

Elective surgery and procedures
The Victorian Government has announced the suspension of all elective surgery and procedural activities, except for category one and the most urgent category two patients.

We will be contacting all patients who have their elective surgery or procedure scheduled during the seven-day lockdown period, who fall outside these categories, to reschedule their care.

Specialist outpatient consulting
Specialist Consulting Clinics will continue to see face to face patients based on an individual risk assessment. Clinicians should change patient appointments to telehealth bookings where possible.

There is a range of quick reference guides and other resources available on our website to support employees as we continue to deliver high-quality care using telehealth channels.

Emergency Department
Monash Health’s emergency departments will continue to enact COVID-19 plans, including screening at entries and PPE requirements for patients.

COVID-19 Model of Care

The way we manage suspected COVID-19 and COVID-19 positive patients is well-established. Our inpatient model of care has not changed based on the new restrictions. Now is an appropriate time to refresh your awareness and ensure that you fully understand our COVID-19 inpatient models of care. Please take a few minutes to review the COVID-19 Inpatient Admission Procedure. You can access and download this procedure on PROMPT.

Pharmaceutical and medical industry visitors
Pharmaceutical and medical industry visitors are not currently authorised to visit any Monash Health site. This restriction will be reviewed regularly.

Arrangements for those at higher risk of serious illness
If you are at higher risk of serious illness if you contract COVID-19, we will need to assess the risk of you continuing to work on-site during the lockdown.

If you fall into one of these categories, please speak to your manager about what arrangements can be put in place until the end of this lockdown:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and older with one or more chronic medical conditions.
  • People 65 years and older with chronic medical conditions.
  • People 70 years and older.
  • People with compromised immune systems.
  • Pregnant women >28 weeks gestation.

Our aim is to keep employees and patients safe and trying, wherever possible, to have people continue to work in some capacity, even if that means temporarily changing role or location or working from home while the risk is present.

If you can safely complete your role from home, then please speak with your manager about making that arrangement until the end of the lockdown. We encourage all employees to be vaccinated and, in clinical areas, employees to complete the Respiratory Protection Program.

Please contact the Monash Health Employee Hotline on 9594 5815 if further guidance is needed.

All meetings to move online
All Monash Health meetings must now be conducted virtually whenever possible. This includes meetings for clinical teams. Please do not organise face-to-face meetings or team gatherings.

Information about using Webex conferencing tools is available on the coronavirus website.

Work from home if possible
Where it is operationally viable to perform your role remotely, you should do so. All remote working arrangements must be approved by your manager.

Health care and aged care worker restriction: working at one aged care facility or campus where practical
In response to the current COVID-19 response, the Department of Health has advised that, where practical, consideration must be given to all care facility workers and health care workers being restricted to working at one campus or facility only, until further notice. This is to help stop any potential spread of the virus.

 It’s important that you and your team members have completed the Employee Workplace Declaration form and that details are up to date.

Please speak to your manager if you would like further information or support in staffing arrangements.

Student clinical placements to continue but restrictions in place
Student clinical placements are permitted in all settings but restricted from providing care or being exposed to high-risk SCOVID and confirmed COVID-19 patients. As per the above, students are restricted to one campus or site only.

Support available
As restrictions come back into force, you may experience anxiety or stress. We have a wide range of resources available to help you during this uncertain time. These can be found on the Health and Wellbeing page on the Monash Health COVID-19 website and include:

  • The Employee Assistance Program, available to provide you and your family with support and advice on a broad range of matters.
  • Our Emotional and Mental Health page has a range of resources relating to anxiety, mental health and mindfulness.
  • Monash Health psychologists are providing a confidential and free service for our employees through Call a Psychologist. To access Call a Psychologist, call 0418 905 414.
  • The Smiling Mind app offers a Healthcare Worker Wellbeing Program designed to support good mental health during COVID-19. Simply download the free app (available on iOS and Android) and navigate to Healthcare Worker under All Programs.
  • TEN – The Essential Network is an app supporting Health Professionals to manage life and work through COVID-19.

Free patient entertainment
In light of the lockdown, we will once again provide free bedside television to our patients. We have to put visitor restrictions in place to keep patients and employees safe, which we know is hard for everyone. We hope that free access to TV will make a patient’s stay with us a little easier.

Look after yourself, stay safe, and if you haven’t been vaccinated, I strongly encourage you to do so. 

Andrew Stripp
Chief Executive

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 regularly consult the latest updates by visiting the Victorian coronavirus website and the Monash Health COVID-19 website.

This website is for Monash Health employees. Please be mindful before sharing links.Learn more