Executive Messages

April 2020

Lest We Forget, ANZAC Day, 25 April 2020

23/4/20

 

Dear colleagues,

 

We are approaching ANZAC Day, and unfortunately we will not be able to recognise this important day through memorial services at our facilities.

 

Saturday 25th April marks the anniversary of the first major military action Australian and New Zealand forces fought together during the First World War. It is a time to commemorate all soldiers who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. 

 

On ANZAC Day this Saturday, I encourage you to keep those who sacrificed their lives for us in your thoughts and hearts. Whether at home or at work, we can all still pause and observe a one-minute silence to honour those who lost their lives while serving our country.

 

ANZAC Day is also a time to pay tribute to the many doctors and nurses who have cared for the sick, wounded and dying during periods of war, a strong tradition that continues to today.

 

We are just as grateful now, as our grandparents were then, for your selfless dedication, compassion and commitment to our patients.

 

Best wishes and stay safe.

Regards

 

Graeme Loy

 

WSLHD Chief Executive

WSLHD Children’s Activity Program extended until Tuesday 28 April

23/4/20

 

Dear colleagues,

 

I am pleased to advise that we are extending the WSLHD Children’s Activity Program to next Tuesday 28 April. This will support staff requiring child care on the public school staff development days next Monday and Tuesday.

 

This free service is based at our Cumberland East campus (Building 55) and is available to all WSLHD staff. Care is available from 7.00am to 6.00pm for all primary school aged children.

 

The service is provided in an indoor facility equipped with play and creative areas and a range of toys, equipment and resources. Qualified and experienced educators have developed a fun program of activities to appeal to children of different ages.

 

Visit the website and click Enrol to register. More details are available in the attached documents including information about how to enrol and book.

 

Please email WSLHD-VacationCare@health.nsw.gov.au if you have any questions.

 

Regards

 

Luci Caswell

 

Director, People & Culture

COVID-19 Staff Update, 22 April

23/4/20

 

Dear colleagues,

 

I am pleased to provide an update on our negotiations with local councils in relation to staff parking. Blacktown, Cumberland and Parramatta City Councils have all agreed not to issue infringement notices to staff who exceed parking time limits in residential streets within one kilometre of Auburn, Westmead, and Blacktown & Mount Druitt Hospitals. Staff should display a de-identified photocopy of their staff ID card on the dashboard of their vehicle to be eligible for the exemption.

 

NSW Health’s Critical Intelligence Unit is continuing to conduct daily reviews of all COVID-19 research and provide the most up-to-date expert advice. Findings are being shared regularly with clinicians state-wide to inform decision-making and planning. Updates on emerging evidence, symptomology, treatment and models of care are also available on the Critical Intelligence Unit page of the Clinical Information Access Portal.

 

Things are changing rapidly and we are here to provide the information and support that you need. Our COVID-19 Information page has the latest staff updates and important links. Our Support for Staff and Support for Managers pages have a wealth of advice, tips and resources to help you stay well and safe during this period. If you have any questions, please ask. Your manager is your best first point of contact, whether it is a query about PPE, rostering, working from home or reporting an incident.

 

I would like to thank our Workplace Wellness team for providing face-to-face and virtual support to so many of our staff. Over the past few weeks, they have contacted more than 1,400 staff across our District to provide information and support. The team originally joined WSLHD to coordinate a broad culture program, and have redirected their attention to the more immediate need to support the wellbeing of our staff.

 

Although we may not be directly focusing on our Culture Strategy in the way we planned, our culture is evolving. I have been so impressed with the care and collaboration I have seen amongst our staff during this time.

 

Please continue to look after yourselves and one another.

 

Regards

 

Graeme Loy

 

WSLHD Chief Executive

COVID-19 Staff Update, 21 April

23/4/20

 

Dear colleagues,

 

Yesterday, we received our weekly bulk order of PPE supplies, including face shields, face masks and isolation gowns. I can assure you that we have sufficient PPE stock in the system to meet our current requirements, and will continue to monitor this daily.

 

If you have any concerns that there is not enough PPE for you to do your job safely, please follow usual process and speak to your manager. The WSLHD Clinical Procurement team is also available to assist (WSLHD-ClinicalProductsMail@health.nsw.gov.au). Prompt assistance for urgent requests is guaranteed, as staff safety is paramount.

 

Please continue to refer to the Clinical Excellence Commission’s Guidelines for the appropriate use of PPE in different situations. These are available on the CEC’s website, and on our COVID-19 Information page.

 

NSW Health has now updated the areas identified for increased COVID-19 testing. Some of these areas are in Western Sydney – the full list is available on the NSW Health webpage. I encourage anyone who has even mild flu-like symptoms and works and/or lives in these areas to get tested. Please encourage family members and friends with symptoms to come to one of our clinics or contact their GP. Increased testing is critical for prompt diagnosis, treatment and isolation to help keep the number of community transmissions low.

 

Our Workplace Wellness team is continuing to provide support, and have now checked in with more than 1,200 of our staff. I ask all managers to support staff in making time to visit the Workplace Wellness team. Our overall activity in the hospitals is reduced so we would like people to use any available time to seek support if needed.

 

Find out more about the service on our Workplace Wellness team webpage and in The Pulse. Resources are also available on our Support for Staff and Support for Managers pages. Our employee Assistance Program provider, AccessEAP also offers free, confidential counselling to all of our staff and their immediate families.

 

This is an unusual and difficult time, and I encourage you to reach out if you need some extra support.

 

Regards

 

Graeme Loy

 

WSLHD Chief Executive

Staff safety and reporting abuse

23/4/20

 

Dear colleagues,

 

Like the majority of our patients and members of the public, we are incredibly proud of our healthcare workers, particularly those on the frontline, who are keeping us safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

We are deeply concerned to hear reports of staff being abused by some members of the public. This has mainly occurred on public transport or in public spaces such as supermarkets while staff have been in uniform.

 

Across the state there have been cases of verbal abuse, threats, aggressive staring, and spitting and coughing on healthcare workers. Laws have now been introduced to protect healthcare and other essential workers, and the police are able to issue fines of up to $5,000.

 

I would like to assure you that the District will provide support and assistance to all staff who report abuse, including making a report to police if that is requested.

 

In the past, some healthcare workers have been reluctant to report abuse due to concerns about feeling embarrassed, judged or blamed, or the belief that they will not be taken seriously. Please be assured that the District will take this very seriously, and every single incident will be followed up.

 

Reporting incidents

 

Staff who have experienced abuse should proceed directly to Security on arrival at the hospital or NSW Police on arrival at home. Both WSLHD Security and NSW Police will take these concerns seriously and provide assistance and advice about the next steps.

 

Any concerns or incidents should be reported to your hospital Security team, your manager, and NSW Police or Crime Stoppers.

 

Make sure you have these useful contact numbers entered in your phone, and turn on the SOS function in your phone if you have it:

 

  • NSW Police: Urgent 000, Police Assistance Reporting line 13 444, Crime Stoppers
    1800 333 000

  • WSLHD Security: Westmead 8890 7625, Blacktown (02) 9881 8014, Cumberland (02) 9840 3500, Auburn (02) 8759 3411, Mount Druitt (02) 9881 1766

 

Please change clothes at our facilities during work time to avoid wearing your uniform in public, and contact Security staff if you would like an escort to your car, particularly after dark. It is also important to remain aware of your surroundings and use direct, well-lit routes while travelling to and from work.

 

Trust your instincts – if you feel uncomfortable in a situation, leave right away and get help if needed. Emergency assistance devices are available in our carparks, on public transport and in some public spaces. If travelling by car keep your doors locked and do not respond to aggressive drivers. If harassed or threatened, call 000 or drive to the nearest police station.

 

Please take care, and report any concerns or incidents so we can assist you. Confidential, free counselling is also available at any time by contacting Access EAP on 1800 818 728.

 

Regards

 

Luci Caswell

 


Director, People & Culture

COVID-19 Staff Update, 20 April

23/4/20

 

Dear colleagues,

NSW Health has provided advice that comprehensive testing is critical at this stage of the COVID-19 epidemic. This will help us to identify a high percentage of people in the community who have COVID-19, so they can be treated and isolated to prevent further transmission. Under the expanded parameters for testing, anyone who presents with flu-like symptoms should be tested for COVID-19. We have already tested more than 17,000 people in Western Sydney. This is a significant achievement, and this number will continue to grow.

 

We will continue to apply and expand our safety measures to protect our patients, staff and visitors. Today we extended mandatory health screening to all NSW Ambulance staff who enter our hospitals. While ambulance staff are usually only in our hospitals for a short time, it is important that everyone undergoes health screening.

 

I understand that some incidents of aggression have occurred while our staff have been applying COVID-19 safety measures including the visitor policy. This is not acceptable; we will investigate these incidents and look at how we can better protect those who are implementing these important changes. I encourage you to continue to report any concerns or incidents to your manager, and to call Security staff for assistance if necessary.

 

Whilst the COVID-19 response is a very important part of our work, we also need to focus on business as usual processes such as incident reporting in all streams of our work. There are still many important services being delivered and we need to make sure we capture all incidents that may occur.

 

Finally, NSW Health has started sending COVID-19 SMS alerts to all Health staff via their mobile number. The initial message was sent last Friday. If you didn’t receive it, or are not sure if your correct mobile number is recorded, please check your details in StaffLink. This will help make sure you don’t miss any important updates.

 

As always, we will continue to publish important information on our COVID-19 Information page and resources to support staff on our Staff and Manager pages.

 

Regards

 

Graeme Loy

 

WSLHD Chief Executive

Updated information – Vulnerable Health Care Workers

23/4/20

 

Dear colleagues, 

The information and risk assessment for Vulnerable Healthcare Workers (HCW) at WSLHD has been updated in relation to risk factors and consideration of those factors – attached.

 

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice on vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people appears unclear in parts.

 

When read in its entirety the AHPPC advice appears to indicate that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 50 are at greater risk if infected with COVID-19. This is whether or not chronic illness is present, but is particularly so if the person has any of the chronic medical conditions noted in the AHPPC section on chronic illness.

 

The section titled ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for older people’ defines ‘older people’ as those aged over 70 years and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50, noting that these people are at greater risk if they contract COVID-19.

 

The section “Advice for people at risk of coronavirus (COVID-19)’ notes that people over the age of 65 and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 50 years of age, with specified chronic illness are at greater risk if they contract COVID-19.

 

It is clear that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 50 with specified chronic illnesses should be considered vulnerable HCWs.

 

Older people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds without any of the chronic illnesses noted by the NHPPC may wish to consult their health care provider as to whether or not they meet the criteria for vulnerable HCWs.

 

WSLHD continues to encourage staff to consider whether or not they are a vulnerable HCW and to discuss this with their manager, using the information on the AHPPC website and their usual health care provider if available. WSLHD will continue to assist vulnerable HCWs in reducing their risk in accordance with the Health advice.

 

Regards

 

Luci Caswell
Director, People & Culture

Our nurses and midwives

23/4/20

 

Dear colleagues,

 

Firstly I want to say how proud I am of our nurses and midwives across the District.

 

This pandemic is a challenge for all healthcare providers, and I want to thank each and every one of you for continuing to provide essential care for the people of Western Sydney and beyond.

 

As the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, this is a special year for us.

 

I would like to share an update on our plans to celebrate International Day of the Midwife
(5 May) and International Nurses Day (12 May) this year:

 

 

 

 

 

  

Regards 

 

Caroline Farmer

 

Director Nursing & Midwifery, and Clinical Governance

COVID-19 Staff Update, 17 April

23/4/20

 

Dear colleagues,

 

At a state level, the Ministry of Health is continually modelling and planning to respond to a range of potential scenarios based on the State Government’s directives in relation in isolation and social distancing. We are working closely with the Ministry to ensure we are ready to adjust our capacity as required.

 

Our strong partnerships with the private hospitals are critical to retaining and increasing capacity in our Intensive Care Services and hospitals overall. We now have a dedicated position responsible for centrally coordinating and allocating surgery to the private hospitals. Next week I will be meeting directly with colleagues in the private sector to discuss how we can expand and consolidate this arrangement.

 

Community care is thriving with our Integrated Care & Community Health teams making more than 1000 calls to people in our care in the community. This is our main model for delivery of COVID-19 care, given only a relatively small number of patients require hospitalisation.

 

The Australian Government’s proposed new mobile phone app has my full support. TraceTogether is expected to be released soon and will be an invaluable tool for assisting with tracing the contacts of those with confirmed COVID-19 using Bluetooth technology. The rapid identification and testing of contacts has the potential to be game-changing in terms of reducing community transmissions. The app has been successful in helping to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore and I look forward to its introduction here.

 

We received a major PPE delivery before the long weekend, and further deliveries this week to ensure adequate PPE supplies are always available. Orders have been placed this morning for a major weekly delivery on Monday. If you have an urgent PPE requirement over the weekend, please contact your Procurement Team representative so we can escalate it and source the necessary items.

 

I am conscious of the ongoing and significant efforts of our staff over the past months. If you have leave available and would like a break, I encourage you to discuss it with your manager. It is an intense and stressful time, and it is important to take time to rest and recharge when you can.

 

Regards

 

Graeme Loy

 

WSLHD Chief Executive

WSLHD Children’s Activity Program

23/4/20

 

Dear colleagues,

 

Further to my email earlier this week about Catholic Out of School Hours Care’s vacation care, I am pleased to advise that we now have a WSLHD vacation care service.

 

We have established the WSLHD Children Activity Program to support our staff requiring care for their primary school aged children for the final week of the school holidays.

 

This free service is based at our Cumberland East campus (Building 55) and is available to all WSLHD staff. Care will be available from 7.00am to 6.00pm from next Monday 20 April to Friday 24 April.

 

The service will operate from an indoor facility equipped with several separate play and creative areas with a range of toys, equipment and resources. Qualified and experienced educators have developed a fun, action-packed program of activities to appeal to children of different ages.

 

Visit the website and click Enrol to register. More details are available in the attached documents including information about how to enrol and book. You can also email WSLHD-VacationCare@health.nsw.gov.au if you have any questions.

 

In addition, WSLHD has child care centres for children up to five years of age onsite at Westmead, Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospitals. Please contact the relevant centre to find out more if you are interested in this service.

 

Regards

 

Luci Caswell

 

Director, People & Culture

 

COVID-19 Staff Update, 16 April

23/4/20

 

Dear colleagues,

 

I am very proud of all of our frontline staff who are continuing to provide care and essential services in our facilities and in the community. Both personally and on behalf of our Executive team and the WSLHD Board, I want to thank you for your dedication, flexibility and compassion – you are critical to our ongoing provision of healthcare to our community.

 

I am pleased to provide an update on arrangements to provide free staff parking at our hospitals. As mentioned earlier in the week, HealthShare NSW has temporarily suspended all salary deductions for parking. Staff access to carparks has now been enabled at all of our hospitals. At Blacktown and Mount Druitt, special processes are in place to make parking available and at Westmead we are liaising with the car parking provider to enable access to the parking facilities. To request access please contact your parking office through the usual pathways.

 

Acknowledging that it is not possible for everyone to work remotely, I am glad that we have been able to facilitate working from home arrangements for many of our staff. More than 2,500 users have connected to our network remotely in the last month. We will continue to progress work from home initiatives, and I encourage you to discuss options with your manager. More information including a copy of application form is available on our Flexible working during COVID-10 webpage.

 

Our increased testing of those in our communities is progressing well. To date, we have tested more than 16,000 patients, visitors, community members and staff. This increase in testing will help us to identify cases of COVID-19 quickly, and facilitate immediate treatment and self-isolation. This is a critical measure to slow and prevent the spread of the virus.

 

We have also been focusing on support for aged care services. Partnering with the Western Sydney Primary Health Network, we are providing integrated care for the residents of aged care facilities across Western Sydney. A range of treatment options are available including face-to-face visits, telehealth appointments, and the use of existing Geriatric Medicine, Hospital in the Home and Rapid Access Specialist services. Highly experienced geriatric professionals are triaging referrals and identifying the most appropriate LHD service for each patient. This is very important work and I would like to thank all of our staff who are involved.

 

I would also like to thank our staff who are leading and participating in the NSW Health Communities of Practice. We are privileged to have outstanding clinicians who are leaders in their specialities and I am pleased that they are able to guide the state-wide COVID-10 response. Contact details and information about how to join the Communities of Practice is available on the NSW Health webpage. Please note that any requests from these Communities of Practices for information about the District’s services and operations must be provided via your General Manager or Director to ensure transparency and consistency.

 

ServiceNow plans to send SMS alerts to notify NSW Health staff about important COVID-19 information including updates about these Communities of Practice, as well as PPE, accommodation and parking arrangements. Please check your mobile number in StaffLink (instructions attached) to make sure you are able to receive these.

 

Things are changing rapidly and I know there is a lot of information being provided. We will continue to publish the most important information and resources for staff on our COVID-19 Information page, and I encourage you to talk to your manager if you have any questions.

 

Regards

 

Graeme Loy

 

WSLHD Chief Executive

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