Published: 16 September 2020

Legislative Council Tuesday 15 September, 2020


With regard to the COVID-19 workplace safety arrangements in place for staff, paramedics and patients utilising the North West Regional Hospital, particularly the DEM waiting room and triage areas what specific measures are in place to:

1. Ensure appropriate social distancing.

2. Provide general warmth, safety and comfort to patients waiting to be seen or to be collected when being discharged from the DEM.

3. How are the measures monitored; and
  3.1 Whose responsibility is it to ensure social distancing and maximum numbers of people in the area is not exceeded;

4. Have there been times when it has been difficult or impossible to comply with the requirements due to patient numbers in attendance; and
  4.1 If so, how often has this occurred?


1. All staff have been advised of and regularly reminded of the requirement to observe social distancing in the workplace. A twice daily announcement over the loud speaker advises all building occupants of the requirement to ensure they are socially distanced by maintaining ‘two large steps’ from others.
Stickers have been placed on floors throughout the hospital where gathering or queueing is likely to take place to serve as a visual reminder. Main Entrances, Ward Entrances the Emergency Department entrance are all manned during peak times by Screening staff to ensure appropriate flow and distancing through these areas. Bollards and lanes are in place through the Main Entrance to physically separate visitors and staff who are screening.

2. The waiting room in the Emergency Department along with the front entrance foyer of the NWRH and MCH are all heated to a comfortable temperature.
Like all other non-clinical areas the ED waiting room is automatically temperature controlled to 22 degrees Celsius. There is an air lock located directly inside the ED entrance door which is designed to prevent heating loss from the internal waiting room. It is possible that at times when patients pass in and out, or when both doors are triggered and open at the same time, some heat transfer will occur for a short period of time.
Dependent on patients presenting and how busy the Emergency Department is at that time, patients are able to wait in their cubicle until they are collected. If they are suitable to wait in the waiting room, staff ask that they do so. Blankets can be provided if required. Patients are able to see out to the pick up/drop off zone from the waiting room so they are able to stay inside until they are collected. There are 2 vending machines, a coffee machine and a water fountain in the waiting room. Security staff are located adjacent to the waiting room.

3. As above, all entrance points are manned by Screening staff who monitor flow and social distancing. In the ED, the staff member screening patients into ED holds the responsibility of monitoring numbers in the waiting room. Once the maximum number is reached all those waiting in the waiting room are required to wear a surgical mask. In some cases when demand is high, and to reduce the risk of overcrowding, visitors are asked to wait in their cars until they are able to go into the department. In some cases, appropriate patients are asked to wait in their cars until it is time for them to be seen.
All staff are required to report incidents to their respective manager and feedback can be provided to Work Health & Safety. During Infection Control Audits, the Infection Prevention & Control team have also been providing feedback about social distancing.

4. Where room size does not enable effective social distancing, the NWRH has proactively put strategies in place such as the use of surgical masks in certain consulting rooms, the Emergency Department waiting area as part of the COVID-19 Safety Plans in place across the facility.


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