A GP-led respiratory clinic established as part of the Australian Government’s $2.4 billion health package to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak has opened in Shepparton.
The Federal Government is establishing up to 100 similar clinics across the country to assess patients with mild to moderate COVID-19-like symptoms. The clinics will reduce pressure on hospital emergency departments and other local general practices.
Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton, said the Shepparton clinic is one of up to 100 dedicated respiratory clinics being set up across the country as part of the Australian Government’s response to the outbreak.
“We are putting in place a range of measures, including additional practice incentives and the expansion of telehealth to enable the rural medical workforce to continue to care for regional Australians through this crisis,” Minister Coulton said.
Federal Member for Nicholls, Damian Drum, said the Shepparton clinic – to be operated by the doctors and staff from the adjacent Princess Park Clinic – is best placed to support people with fever, cough, sore throat and other respiratory symptoms.
“I encourage anyone in our community experiencing these symptoms to call the clinic or go online to book an appointment,” Mr Drum said.
“The Federal Government has been working with local GPs and Aspen Medical – which has significant health emergency management experience in Australia and overseas – to roll out the Shepparton clinic.”
Murray PHN identified a range of practices across its region that had both the capacity and interest in establishing a pop-up respiratory clinic on behalf of the Commonwealth.
Murray PHN chief executive, Matt Jones, said Commonwealth-funded respiratory clinics were operating in its catchment in Mildura, Bendigo, Wodonga and now Shepparton. A clinic in Swan Hill is also likely to open in the coming weeks.
Mr Jones welcomed the establishment of the Shepparton Respiratory Clinic to help with testing for community transmission of COVID-19, as more restrictions ease from early June.
“It is vital to continue to practice good hygiene and physical distancing and stay vigilant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases this winter,” Mr Jones said.
Princess Park practice manager Leanne Taylor said she and her staff are proud to be playing a part in the fight against COVID-19.
“This clinic gives us the opportunity to run our usual GP practice but still look after the patients who are sick with cold and flu symptoms,” Ms Taylor said.
“This will become more important coming into winter.”
More than 260 fever clinics, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and state and territory governments, are also in operation across Australia.
To access a clinic people can visit www.health.gov.au and use the online booking system.
- People with severe symptoms should call 000 and/or attend the nearest hospital emergency department.
- People with mild to moderate respiratory symptoms will need to make an appointment either online via booking links available at www.health.gov.au or over the phone if the clinic has made a local phone booking arrangement available.
- It is important that people attend the clinic only at the time of their booking so that social distancing can be maintained, and they may be asked to wait in their car until the clinic is ready to receive them.
- People will be assessed by a GP or a nurse under the supervision of a GP and have a specimen taken for pathology testing if that is indicated.
- Regardless of whether a test is undertaken, the person will receive clinical advice on how to manage their symptoms and an initial follow-up phone call or text message with test results and to check on how they are going.
- After people have visited the clinic, they will remain eligible to continue to consult their regular GP using the MBS telehealth items.