Coronavirus staff information

Risk level updated: 24 July 2020

The Criteria for Testing documents, clinical information and the list of affected services can only be accessed on the intranet. Almost everything else is available here.

Case location alert - Windscreens Cafe and POWH Barker St entrance foyer on 25 August

A COVID-19 case location alert has been issued for Windscreens Cafe, Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick AND Foyer, Barker Street entrance, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick 10:30am - 12 noon, Tuesday, 25 August 2020. 

On Wednesday 26 August, SCHN was advised by SESLHD  that a person later diagnosed with COVID-19 visited the Windscreens Café and the foyer area of the Barker St entrance of Prince of Wales Hospital and the Royal Hospital for Women on Tuesday 25 August 2020 while infectious. The person underwent visitor screening upon entry to the hospital as per policy. The person developed symptoms later in the day and underwent a COVID-19 test.
 
The Royal Hospital for Women has taken the decision to close the café for cleaning.  The hospitals on the Randwick Campus have taken all appropriate actions and there are no ongoing risks to patients, staff or visitors.

Close contacts of this person are currently being contacted by the Public Health Unit. Windscreens Cafe's visitor log is being used to support this process.  

Any staff or visitors who were in the foyer area of the Barker St entrance on Tuesday, 25 August 2020 between 10:30am –  12 noon should look out for symptoms until 8th September 2020 and get tested even if they have the mildest of symptoms.   If you were in the Windscreens Café at this time, please notify your manager prior to coming to work.

If you have symptoms please present yourself to one of our COVID-19 clinics for testing and isolate until you have received your test results. 

Thank you for your co-operation and if you have any questions or concerns please speak to your manager, contact us via SCHN-EOC@health.nsw.gov.au or speak to the SCH COVID-19 site lead Verity Luckey

Changes to community transmission risk level and mask use: 24 July

This advice applies to hospital and community health settings and comes into effect from today, Friday 24 July 2020. 

NSW Health has advised to escalate to a moderate risk level (amber) for local transmission of COVID-19. This includes new advice on the use of masks in our hospitals. 

This NSW Health directive also requires all health workers wear a surgical mask if they are within 1.5m of patients or visitors. Please note there is no need to wear P2/N95 or other more highly graded masks. These are reserved for high-risk procedures.

Staff should follow the extended use guidelines from CEC in using masks to use our mask supply wisely.

Patients over the age of 12 and visiting families are also required to wear a mask, where possible. Children aged 12 years and under do not need to wear a mask. This will be raised at the Concierge screening station.

The new advice on mask use is underpinned by expert risk assessments. The recommendations are detailed in the COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control Response and Escalation Framework and poster (please place this in your tea rooms or staff facing areas).  

Staff working in non-clinical areas do not need to wear a mask, as significant efforts have been made to modify work practices to ensure physical distancing is in place. If you are unable to physically distance in your work area due to clinical need, please wear a mask. Please speak to your manager first about what work practices could be modified, to avoid mask use.

All staff should ensure that current inpatients and families are provided with a surgical mask, to use for the day. When contacting families for planned appointments, please ask them to bring their own mask (if they have one). A cloth or surgical mask is sufficient. If families do not have a mask, we will provide them with one.

If you need more masks ordered for your work area, please speak to your line manager.

Enhanced screening due to increases COVID-19 cases: 17 July

In light of the increased number of COVID-19 cases, and at the direction of NSW Health, all staff and visitors will be excluded from our facilities if they have been to any one of these locations at the times indicated.

  • The exclusion is for 14 days after the last day they visited the venue. 
  • Staff who have been to these venues at the times indicated will need to advise their manager immediately. For infection control we will be asking these staff about their contacts at work, so it can be accessed if they were to develop symptoms or receive a positive COVID-19 test. If you are affected, please complete this COVID-19 Contact form.

As an additional step, even if they have no symptoms, SCHN will offer anyone who arrives on site, who identifies as having visited a case location, a test in the Assessment Clinic.

A poster listing case locations will be made available on a daily basis at the Concierge, Assessment Clinics and the Emergency Departments.

Remember spending time with someone who has been to these locations does not make you a contact, unless they have tested positive to COVID-19!

Crossroads Hotel, Picton Hotel, Planet Fitness Casula

In addition to the above, if a staff member has visited Crossroads Hotel, Casula (3-10 July), Picton Hotel (4,5,9,10 July) or Planet Fitness Gym, Casula (4-10 July), it is imperative they contact their manager, and:

  • immediately self-isolate for 14 days since they last attended the venue and get tested, even if they are have no symptoms.
  • complete the 14 day self-isolation period, even if they return a negative swab result during this time.
  • get re-tested if they develop symptoms.

Further NSW restrictions announced today

From 12.01am Friday, 24 July the NSW Government will tighten COVID-19 restrictions around “higher risk” community gatherings and activities.

Transmission Risk Indicator: Stay COVID-Safe

Following the increased COVID-19 cases, our transmission risk level indicator has changed to yellow/moderate at the following Network facilities:

  • CHW 

  • NETS 

  • Children’s Court Clinic

  • PSN

It remains green/low at SCH and Bear Cottage. Risk levels are different at our facilities, as the most COVID-19 cases are located in the south western suburbs of Sydney.

It’s vital that cases are found early and we all work together to reduce the rate of community transmission. This indicator is in place to remind us of the need to be COVID-Safe at home and at work, by following the practices we know well:

  • Stay home and seek testing if you have any respiratory symptoms, loss of sense of smell or taste, or unexplained fever 
  • Practice frequent hand hygiene 
  • Adhere to physical distancing guidelines at all times: 1.5m apart from each other and 4m2 rule. 
  • Download the COVID-Safe App to help the contact tracers!

As always, we encourage you all to regularly review your team’s internal processes and reach out to your manager or the EOC team if you have any questions.

What to do if you have visited a COVID-19 case location: 15 July

Crossroads Hotel and Picton Hotel

Any NSW Health staff who attended the Crossroads Hotel at Casula between Friday 3 July and Friday 10 July or Picton Hotel on Saturday 4 July, Sunday 5 July, Thursday 9 July or Friday 10 July are to immediately:

  • Attend a clinic for testing, even if they have no symptoms
  • Watch for respiratory symptoms and get re-tested should any symptoms occur
  • Self-isolate and remain in self-isolation until 14 days have passed since they attended the Crossroads or Picton Hotels, even if a negative test result is received.

Leave arrangements

  • Special Leave is available to NSW Health staff who are self-isolating because of Crossroads or Picton Hotel.
  • Where a NSW Health staff member is self-isolating on Special Leave and becomes sick for any reason, they should transition onto Sick Leave.

Please note

  • Only staff who have visited these hotels in the above-stated timeframes are to seek testing.
  • Staff do not need to get tested if they know someone or live with someone who has visited these hotels, and who has tested negative.
  • An individual is not considered a ‘contact’ unless they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive to COVID-19.

Visit the NSW Health website for information about the areas in NSW with active COVID-19 cases and what to do if you have visited one of these areas.

Travel to Victoria: 8 July update — Ministry of Health

  • The NSW-Victorian border is closed.
  • Staff are NOT to travel to Victoria until further notice.
  • If staff have been to any area of Victoria in the last 14 days, they must self-isolate for 14 days and contact their manager to discuss.
  • Any patients presenting to our facilities, who identify that they have been to Victoria in the last 14 days, should be isolated and managed as per normal protocol outlined below.
  • Read the NSW Premier's media release.

Staff advice

If you have travelled to any area of Victoria in the last 14 days, please contact your manager first before returning to work. Working from home during this time is OK if agreed with your manager.

Patient and visitor-related advice

Outpatients

Any patient presenting for an appointment in the main Outpatients area, who confirms they have visited Victoria in the last 14 days, should be given a mask and sent directly to the main Outpatients area to be isolated. Their clinical team will determine the appropriate next steps.

All other patients

Any patient attending our hospitals for any other reason, who has visited any area of Victoria in the last 14 days, should be sent directly to the ED so their clinical team can be contacted and determine appropriate next steps.

Visitor guidelines and SCHN screening

  • Upon entry to SCHN facilities, all visitors will continue being asked: Have you travelled to Victoria in the last 14 days?
  • If patients respond ‘yes’ (whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic), staff should follow the guidelines listed above.
  • All elective cases and appointments should continue being screened, prior to attending.

Testing

  • Only symptomatic staff, patients and families will be tested for COVID-19. As always, staff should not come to work if they are unwell, and are encouraged to be tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • As clinical teams are aware, we have very limited rapid tests available. These will continue to be limited to urgent, critical cases.

Departmental screening

  • In addition to the concierge screening, it is imperative that manager’s diligently undertake daily health checks and staff screening.
  • All clinic areas are asked to screen patients and families when they arrive and add question about travel to Victoria. Isolate any family who answers ‘yes’ then consider the plan of care.

Updated visitor guidelines

As of 8 July, visitors who have travelled to Victoria in the past 14 days must not enter any hospital facility.

Patients requiring clinical care should be isolated and their clinical teams called to determine next steps.

Following advice from the Ministry of Health we are adjusting our visitor guidelines from 3 June, to help support patients and families, while maintaining physical distancing, so we can safely deliver care.
Limiting parents/carers to one per patient allows us to see more children in our spaces. Clinical teams have the responsibility of maintaining physical distancing guidelines and adjusting visitor numbers based on activity levels, clinical needs and physical space.

Our key visitor guideline principles remain as follows:

  • In most situations, only one parent/carer can visit each child.
  • Only one parent/ carer can stay overnight.
  • No siblings or other children are permitted.
  • ALL visitors must be screened upon entry and must stay home if sick.
  • If both parents need to attend the Hospital for clinical reasons, the patient’s clinician must provide an exemption letter to the parent, for presentation at the concierge screening station.
  • Physical distancing guidelines need to be maintained at all times between people unless in the same family. Rooms must be large enough to accommodate the number of patients, visitors and staff (4m2/person).

The following changes apply in general ward areas if considered safe at the time:

  • Parent/carers can take turns visiting their child, with a maximum 15-minute overlap in the ward area to allow for a ‘handover’ to occur.
  • A maximum of TWO parents/carers are permitted to attend the Hospital with their child upon admission and discharge only for a maximum of one hour. One parent/carer needs to leave after this hour. This will provide parents/carers with the help often needed to transport multiple bags or equipment in and out of the building.
  • Two parents/carers are physically allowed to be on-site if difficult or upsetting news needs to be delivered to a family, for a maximum of one hour. The team can include any other family members via phone, video call or teleconferencing options.

In the Emergency Department, under the direction of the nursing lead:

  • Families are encouraged to adhere to the one parent/carer per child rule.
  • Children with severe or urgent conditions (such as Triage Category 1 or 2) can be accompanied into ED by two parents/carers if sufficient space is available. Similarly, if two parents/carers are needed for clinical care, for that time, they can both be with their child.
  • If a family attends the ED with more than one person or with siblings due to the unplanned and urgent nature of their child’s condition, then ED staff will help find appropriate solutions.

These changes are a work in progress and will be reviewed and adjusted as we go. Our focus is on delivering family centred care while ensuring we have the space and resources needed to care for as many children as we can, without compromising on patient, family and staff safety and wellbeing.

Any requests or concerns about visitor guidelines for a particular child should be discussed with the manager of your area, your site lead or Clinical Program Director. If you have any comments or questions regarding the approach to visitors please email the EOC. 

Grand Rounds - COVID-19 Virtual Update

Grand Rounds will be held this Wednesday, 20 May from 1-2pm.

The Slido link for this Wednesday’s SCH Infectious Diseases Grand Rounds session on COVID-19 has now been activated. Staff have the opportunity to submit any questions they have in advance here.

Like last time, approximately 30 minutes will be dedicated to a Q&A session. 

A reminder that internal staff participants (or at home using VPN) can join using the live stream link.

COVID-19 testing now available for anyone with symptoms

COVID-19 testing is now available for anyone with symptoms.

Seek medical attention if you are experiencing a sore/scratchy throat, cough, fever, shortness of breath or other symptoms such as unusual body aches and pains, change in smell and taste or a runny nose.

You do not need to have travelled overseas or been in contact with someone who has coronavirus.

SCHN researchers in the lead to understand COVID-19

Researchers at SCHN have been actively working to investigate and understand the virus that has caused this global health crisis. Here is a summary of the research our staff are currently working on:

The spread in Public Health

The preliminary findings of an investigation by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) to understand the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in New South Wales schools were released this week and suggest that the spread of COVID-19 within NSW schools has been very limited.

Other key conclusions include:

  • SARS-CoV-2 transmission in children in schools appears considerably less than seen for other respiratory viruses, such as influenza.
  • Based on virus and antibody testing, children are not the primary drivers of COVID-19 spread in schools or in the community. This is consistent with data from international studies showing low rates of disease in children and limited spread among children and from children to adults. This is quite different from the spread of influenza.
  • Data from the whole of NSW also demonstrate children (aged <19 years) represent 4% of all cases of COVID-19 despite being approximately 23% of the population.

The full report can be read here .

Investigation into clinical outcomes and population immunity is also underway, with hopes that by better understanding the spread of the virus, we are able to advise policy on new preventative measures over time.

3D printed PPE to support frontline workers

Researchers at EPIC Laboratory at Kids Research, a state-of-the-art facility for development of Engineering Prototypes and Implants for Children have been working to support the frontline workers at COVID-19 Emergency Department at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Throughout the Easter long weekend, the team has had over a hundred 3D printed ear protectors for Emergency Department staff. The team is also working to develop prototypes of scuba masks, fitted with HEPA filter as a last resort PPE. The team is currently running studies to better understand the impact of shielding during potentially high aerosol procedures.

Data to drive delivery of care

A national Clinical Data Analytics Platform (CDAP) capturing health data on patients with COVID-19 will be launched in the coming weeks. The data platform developed by Prof Tom Snelling (Director of the Health and Clinical Analytics team in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney and Infectious Diseases Physician at SCHN) and Jane Shrapnel (Data Scientist at SCHN) will improve current knowledge for frontline healthcare workers, optimising models of care and care delivery during this crucial time in healthcare.

Resilience in health systems – future pandemics

The Population Child Heath group at University of New South Wales (UNSW), led by Prof Raghu Lingam (Head of the Research Unit and Community Paediatrician at SCHN) are currently working on ways to map, evaluate and learn from the changes to the health systems in light of the COVID-19 pandemic to build the resilience of our health systems.

Clinical Cohort studies

Dr Phillip Britton and Dr Peter Hsu, SCHN are working with Prof Ralph Nanan, Nepean Hospital to better understand the evolution of the virus and immunity by analyzing the human immune response to COVID-19 amongst children and adults. Dr Britton is also working with Prof Kristine Macartney (Director of NCIRS) on a clinical cohort study to collate detailed community information on COVID-19.

Additional studies include a registry study of respiratory infections in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients, led by Dr Britton and Janelle Young (Data Manager in ICU).

A national multicentre study of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children with cancer, immunodeficiency or following stem cell transplant is also currently being conducted; whilst an international audit of anaesthesiologists and practice & outcomes from the virus is also underway.

Improved method to detect antibodies

Prof Fabienne Brilot-Turville leads her autoimmunity team at Kids Research, SCHN to optimize an assay to detect antibodies in patients as there is an urgent need to have a better method of antibodies detection. This crucial initiative is the underlying work which will help develop vaccines and therapies, and sustain efforts in global immune surveillance.

Staff forum - answering your COVID-19 questions

We have pre-recorded a  staff forum to answer your questions about COVID-19. The forum covers your clinical, HR, wellbeing, IT and parking related questions. View the staff forum here.

Temperature testing begins at SCHN

Following a directive from NSW Health, temperature testing and screening of staff and visitors will be introduced at all facilities as a priority. 

We are working to roll this out as part of our current health screening processes at SCH, CHW and NETS.  All staff need to bring their hospital ID, to be screened at an entry point.  Staff should place their sticker on their Hospital ID, and carry it with them at all times to avoid the need for re-screening.

While no entry point changes are anticipated at SCH, from today, CHW will temporarily increase its health screening points and some entry points will be closed. This will require some flexibility with our path to work. 

Changes to Staff Assessment Clinic opening times

Wednesday 15 April 

The COVID-19 Staff Assessment Clinic times have changed. The hours of operation at both SCH and CHW are now:

  • 8am - 8pm, 7 days for staff
  • 10am - 8pm, 7 days for general public

For more details, testing criteria and locations, see the Staff Assessment Clinics page.

Grand Rounds - COVID-19 Virtual Update

This week's Grand Rounds will provide a virtual update on COVID-19, presented by infections diseases experts from SCH and CHW, followed by Q and As. Details below:

SCH Grand Rounds –COVID-19, a virtual update


CHW Grand Rounds –COVID-19, a virtual update

If you missed Grand Rounds, you can view the sessions on learning.kids here:

Safety screening at our hospital entry points

Monday 06 April 2020

For the safety of patients, families and staff, a concierge-style screening system will be implemented at both Randwick and Westmead from Monday, 6 April.

All staff and visitors will be screened at the following hospital entry points:

At Randwick

  • Main High Street entrance (under the wave)
  • POWH High Street entrance
  • The Bright Alliance entrance
  • Barker Street entrance (including from the car park)
  • Loading Docks

At Westmead

  • Main entrance
  • Children’s Garden entrance on level 1
  • ALL SCHN managers are responsible for ensuring every staff member has been screened at the start of each shift.

Screeners will ask the following questions:

  • Are you a staff member, patient, family member or visitor? Staff members will need to show their Hospital ID
  • Are you experiencing any cold like symptoms?
  • Have you travelled overseas in the last 14 days?
  • Have you been in contact with someone with COVID-19?
  • Anyone who is sick, a COVID-19 contact or who has undertaken recent overseas travel, will not be permitted to enter.
  • The screener will also ensure that our visitor guidelines of only one parent/carer per patient is adhered to.

If you have any questions, please email SCHN EOC inbox.

Change to Staff Assessment Clinic times

Friday 27 March 2020

The COVID-19 Staff Assessment Clinic times have changed.

The hours of operation at both SCH and CHW are now: 10am - 8pm, 7 days

For more details, testing criteria and locations, see the Staff Assessment Clinics page.

PPE refresher training

Friday 27 March 2020

PPE training is being held for staff at both sites and updated in the education calendar (internal access only). Also see this page for times weekly schedule and resources.

The safety of staff remains paramount, and NSW Health is implementing a state-wide strategy for supplying all staff with the PPE needed to protect them at work.

For more information on this please visit the NSW Health website PPE page. This includes a link to the CEC’s guidelines around the use of PPE.

Visiting clinical areas

Friday 27 March 2020

Staff should not physically visit wards unless there is a direct clinical need. This is particularly essential in isolation wards, the EDs and ICUs.

Teams should significantly restrict the number of staff who visit to the bare minimum. Where possible, please call ahead to see if you have any patients who need a consultation, prior to going to a ward.

To reduce staff movement, please avoid travelling between SCH and CHW on the same day.

Telehealth COVID-19 Quick Guide

Wednesday 18 March 2020

A new quick guide has been developed to support teams undertaking Telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic and appropriately bill the new COVID – 19 Telehealth item numbers for “Vulnerable/isolated patients.”

A sample Telehealth patient letter is available. Both resources can be found in the Telehealth page.