Coronavirus Update

Good afternoon all,

With reports of confirmed and active COVID-19 cases within our regions, it is regretful to confirm that Albury will once again be in lockdown, commencing from 6pm 16 September 2021, as declared by the NSW Government this morning.

This latest lockdown will be for seven days (until 6pm 23 September), however the government has advised that it may be extended beyond that initial end date.

Orange remains under ‘stay at home’ orders.

In response to this urgent and escalating situation, I would like everyone within our Mercy Connect family to be aware of the return to the following restrictions now being actioned:

Day Program and Accommodation Services:

  1. All Mercy Connect Day Programs, across all sites, will remain closed until further notice. It is likely that all Day Program staff will continue to work a 10am-3pm shift from a shared / group home, instead of their usual place of work.
  2. There will be no change of location for those who currently work in accommodation sites, and their shifts will continue as normal; this situation will be monitored and is subject to change.
  3. Mercy Connect owned / managed homes will remain closed to the public until further notice.
    • This includes, but is not limited to, family members / carers, external contractors and suppliers. Exceptions to this directive will be at the discretion of the CEO Office and Executive Leader – Clinical Services.
    • Participants will not be permitted to attend any external Day Program facilities / activities during this time, with Day Program activities only to be offered within the Mercy Connect owned / operated home.
    • Participants of shared (group) homes may individually travel outside (with only one Mercy Connect staff member), whilst maintaining social distancing practices / wearing a mask (unless a mask exemption applies), only for the following ‘essential’ reasons shopping for essential items, medical care, and outdoor exercise.
    • Individual participants living in single accommodation may travel outside (with only one Mercy Connect staff member or one participant’s family member), whilst maintaining social distancing practices / wearing a mask (unless a mask exemption applies), only for the following ‘essential’ reasons shopping for essential items, medical care, and outdoor exercise.
  4. Communication will be sent out to families and guardians today to let them know of these directives.
    • We will also be seeking input from families / guardians on the best way to maintain contact with participants during this time.

Corporate and Central West Offices:

  1. Both Albury (St John’s / Thurgoona) and Orange (Illamatta Way) offices will remain closed to the public. This includes, but is not limited to, participants, family members / carers, external contractors and suppliers. Exceptions to this directive will be at the discretion of the CEO Office.
  2. Albury and Orange office-based staff, by agreement with their relevant Executive Leader, may choose to either:
    1. Work remotely outside of the office environment:
      • Staff are to use either their allocated ICT equipment (e.g. laptop, Wi-Fi dongles or other loaned ICT equipment) in line with the Mercy Connect ‘Working from Home’ Policy.
      • It is recommended that staff take their portable work equipment home with them, in case they are found to be either a close / casual contact at this time, and need to isolate and work from home during isolation.
    2. Continue working within the office environment.
      • Social distancing practices must be complied with, and face masks must be worn at all times.
      • No face-to-face meetings of more than two people at a time.
      • No communal eating within the kitchen areas or other locations onsite.
      • Managers will confirm with teams how a ‘rotating’ approach may work, to ensure continuity of critical business functions i.e. one staff member in office, one staff member working remotely, and vice versa.
      • Office locations / desk placement may change during this time to reduce the close proximity of staff.
    3. If staff are unable to work effectively from home (and wish to be at home, either from self-isolation or sickness), then they are able to take annual leave / sick leave / carers leave / leave without pay, depending on their circumstances (please refer to People and Culture Team if further clarification required).
    4. Any Mercy Connect staff aged over 70 / have a diagnosed medical condition / immunodeficiency which puts them at a greater risk of any respiratory infections should consider going into isolation for their own safety. Please discuss this with your Team Leader / Manager who will then seek advice from People and Culture as to which leave provision options are available at the time.

Please note, although it is regretful to announce, these decisions have not been taken lightly, with participant and staff health and safety of paramount concern at this time.

Thank you to all staff who attended the recent Town Hall meetings, providing information concerning the COVID-19 Vaccination and the support that Mercy Connect will provide staff. It was pleasing to see a range of staff participating in these important events.

The Sarkon Medical Pop-Up Clinic in Lavington, offering vaccinations, is now completely booked for Saturday 18 September, however there will be another opportunity on Saturday 25 September for all eligible Mercy Connect staff, their families and participants.

Please click here if you wish to book online. Please note when booking online it will be under the COVID Bookings – Sarkon Medical Group – Mercy Connect.
Details are:

Lavington Centro Shopping Centre Shop 29 (Next to Carpark) 351 Griffiths Road, Lavington NSW.

Pfizer for all under 50 / Astra Zeneca for 51-over.

You will need the following to book:
Phone No:
Medicare Card #:

While we are continuing to source a provider in our Central West regions, a reminder to staff, that they can also make a booking on the Department of Health website

Mercy Connect will continue to ensure that our staff have access to suitable personal protective equipment (PPE). Please contact Debbie White at  if you require additional PPE at your location.

You must wear a face mask:

  • When you are outside in a public place including;
    • on a street or at a park.
    • queuing outside a cafe or shop to collect take away food or drink.
    • walking on a street near shop fronts.
  • In all indoor areas of non-residential premises, including workplaces
  • When working in an outdoor area.

You may only remove your mask for the following reasons:

  1. Eating or drinking.
  2. Working alone in an office (until another person enters).

You have documented evidence of a medical exemption to not wear a mask.

QR Check-In
A reminder of the importance and legal requirement for all staff and visitors to use the NSW Service QR Check-in at all locations. This is extremely helpful in facilitating contact tracing.

COVID-19 Testing
NSW Health recommends that anyone with any COVID-19 symptoms should be tested for COVID-19. You must isolate until you receive a negative result. Follow the isolation information for people suspected to have COVID-19 infection.

Samples for testing can be taken at your local COVID-19 testing or drive-through clinic, and at a range of private pathology sites across the state, directly by some GPs, or at public hospitals across NSW.
Refer to COVID-19 clinics for locations of NSW Health COVID-19 clinics.

Again, I urge all staff that if you require additional support, during this time, please contact your Team Leader / Manager, or Mercy Connect’s confidential and free counselling service – AccessEAP on 1800 81 87 28.

Together we grow.

Trent Dean
Chief Executive Officer