A new respiratory clinic set up to test people suspected of having coronavirus is now open and operational in Geelong, at Kardinia Health in Belmont, as part of a regional response to the virus.
Kardinia Health CEO Tricia Bulic said: “In collaboration with Western Victoria Primary Health Network we have been able to demonstrate scale and capacity to open a clinic in a very short time. The clinic currently operates four hours per day, but can scale up to an afternoon session if demand increases over time.”
“Our primary function in this clinic is to test for coronavirus where the person is experiencing symptoms of cough, fever, shortness of breath. As the testing criteria has now moved to try and understand the community transmission of the virus, we are inviting anyone who has symptoms to contact us by either the online booking or by phone regardless of whether they have had any recent overseas travel or knows someone who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive to COVID-19. The key message now is, if you have any of these symptoms, please arrange for a test.”
The Belmont clinic is taking bookings directly through the online booking system at health.gov.au where patients wishing to be tested are required to answer several questions about their health status before being able to proceed to booking.
Patients are also able to contact the clinic directly by phone and will be put through to the clinic’s phone triage staff who will follow the same questions and then arrange for a test to be booked.
GP’s can also contact directly and refer a patient for testing. It is crucial that a patient’s GP is engaged in this process as the clinic will be referring patients back for further treatment or support as their primary health service provider.
Western Victoria PHN Acting CEO Tony Ficca said: “We are very pleased that Kardinia Health has quickly set up and commenced operating this respiratory clinic. The turnaround was a matter of weeks which was extraordinary and demonstrates that the primary health sector is in a position to respond very quickly to major health events. It is clear that the acute hospitals have a role in managing very unwell patients but the primary care sector can take the lead in testing and monitoring mild-to-moderate cases that do not require inpatient care.”
The respiratory clinic is open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 12.30pm and offers a drive through testing facility for everyone other than people who are deemed a higher risk, such as people over 70 years of age or under 17 years of age, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and anyone who is physically compromised and who may require a more comprehensive health assessment as well as testing.
Kardinia Health is also offering all regular services for their patients, however, due to managing social distancing and to protect staff and other patients, the majority of consultations are being conducted via telehealth.
Ms Bulic said: “Those who required physical interventions such as wound care, vaccinations and other procedures are still able to have procedures as previously however we are asking people to wait in the cars and we call them once the clinician is ready to avoid waiting in our waiting area. There have been changes to the way our allied health staff provide care but this has been managed on an individual basis according to need and the level of care required. The acceptance of this change has been quite astounding from our patients, clinic staff and the clinicians.”
“We want people to understand that despite the “stay at home” messages and directives, it is very important that people do not neglect their health needs. If you do have emerging symptoms such as a cough, fever or shortness of breath, please arrange to be tested. This will not only assist in access to treatment but may prevent further potential for deterioration as well as reducing the risk of transmission. It will also increase our ability to track the virus especially coming into winter.”