Staff and patient safety a priority with new vaccination direction

On Thursday, 12 August 2021, Lesley Dwyer, Chief Executive Officer of Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) announced the COVID-19 patient pathway staff vaccination Direction.

Consistent with CALHN’s obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA) the CEO Direction, which was endorsed by the CALHN Board, requires all CALHN staff and contractors working within the COVID-19 patient pathway to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

In the announcement shared with all CALHN staff, Ms Dwyer said that direction “is part of our obligation and priority to provide a safe workplace for all our staff and patients during this global pandemic.”

“As you may have seen in the news, hospitals in New South Wales have been treating COVID-19 patients, while also being the centre of their own hospital-based clusters. At the Liverpool Hospital in western Sydney 37 people have been infected as a result of a contact at the hospital, with six deaths so far,” said Ms Dwyer.

“In an interview with 7.30 Report this week, Associate Professor Miriam Levy from the Liverpool Hospital said that despite adequate PPE and all the best infection prevention and control practices, that unless our staff are vaccinated against COVID-19, there is a significant risk of the Delta strain spreading around hospitals. Her words were that unvaccinated healthcare staff and COVID-19 patients create a ‘perfect storm’.

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect patients and ourselves against COVID-19. At CALHN we play a significant role in the state’s response to COVID-19 with the RAH as the state receiving hospital for adults across South Australia. The COVID-19 pathway remains one of the highest areas of risk for our workforce and getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best thing that can be done to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our patients.”

The COVID-19 patient pathway is specific and relevant to all staffing groups including – but not limited to – consultants, nursing, allied health, medical imaging, pathology, orderlies, cleaners, security, volunteers and administration staff. This also applies to Statewide Clinical Support Service staff, contractors and other CALHN staff who work or consult into the areas listed below.

  • RAH Emergency Department (including ED imaging)
  • RAH Intensive Care Unit (Wings 2 & 3)
  • RAH Tech Suites (Zones 1 & 2)
  • RAH COVID-19 wards including 6G, 8G and 9G
  • RAH Mental Health Short Stay Unit
  • RAH Medical Imaging (along the COVID-19 patient pathway)
  • TQEH Emergency Department (including ED imaging)
  • CALHN and SA Pathology COVID-19 testing clinics
  • SA Pathology staff members that have contact with specimens
  • CALHN staff who work in the emergency/rapid response teams including MER, Code Black, Stemi and Stroke
  • CALHN Hospital in the Home programs.

Where specialised contracted staff are required, they should liaise with their usual CALHN contact to confirm urgency and vaccination requirements.

This CALHN-based direction is distinct to that of the Emergency Direction which came into effect on 4 August 2021 relating to ‘red zones’.

Currently, over 67%* of all CALHN staff are fully vaccinated, with 76%* who have had their first dose. In implementing the CEO direction, CALHN’s program leadership teams will work with staff in these areas who are not vaccinated, including those who may be unvaccinated due to medical reasons.

Where necessary, assigning or transferring staff to alternative working arrangements outside the COVID-19 pathway will be managed on a case-by-case basis. This will be done to ensure staff and patients are protected.

All existing staff on the pathway who have yet to be vaccinated will have until 19 August 2021 to have their first COVID-19 vaccination, with the expectation that they receive the second dose and will be fully vaccinated by 19 September 2021.

All new staff commencing in the COVID-19 patient pathway will need to be fully vaccinated prior to commencing work in the area.

All CALHN COVID-19 patient pathway staff are currently eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, regardless of age. For added protection, household members or those in an intimate relationship with staff on the pathway are also eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. They will receive the vaccine in line with the Australian Government requirements, ie those 60 or over will receive AstraZeneca.

To help make it easier for all CALHN staff to access the vaccine, staff members also have access to an express walk-in service at participating vaccination hubs.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges on how we work and how we live our lives. I am proud of how as a network we have collectively responded to ensure that we can continue to provide the best care for our community,” said Ms Dwyer

“The ongoing situation in New South Wales has been a stark reminder that the risk still exists for us – particularly in healthcare. We need to do everything we can to stay safe and stop the spread – and we know that getting vaccinated is the strongest protection we have against COVID-19.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccination program in South Australia visit the SA Health website.


*Data as of 20 July 2021. Data is no longer being made available by Australian Department of Health.