Respiratory clinic open

A RESPIRATORY assessment clinic opened in Sale on Monday – one of six federal government-funded assessment clinics being set up across Gippsland.

The Wellington Respiratory Clinic will be operated by the Inglis Medical Centre at 12 Inglis St, Sale, in a separate part of the building to ensure any suspected cases of COVID-19 are managed in a dedicated isolated clinic, well away from the centre’s regular functions.

It will be staffed from Monday to Friday by a large medical team comprising nine doctors and five nurses from Inglis Medial Centre, and an additional four doctors from other Wellington general practices.

Gippsland Primary Health Network has been working closely with general practices across the region to establish the clinics at the six sites, with Warragul opening last week and the others to progressively follow.

The Australian Department of Health has funded 100 private practice respiratory clinics across Australia to provide dedicated services to people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms, in addition to services available within public hospitals and general practices.

Gippsland PHN chief executive Amanda Proposch said the intent of the assessment clinics was to provide assessment and care of patients presenting with mild to moderate respiratory symptoms, with referral to another health facility or home isolation if required.

She said the clinics would reduce pressure on public hospitals and primary health providers, while also reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 across the whole community.

“Respiratory clinics will reduce the risk of further transmission of COVID-19, help to optimise the use of available stocks of personal protective equipment and help reduce the pressure on hospital emergency departments,” Ms Proposch said.

“The clinics will be established in dedicated premises which meet clear criteria, with arrangements to safely manage infection control.

“They will complement efforts of state and territory clinics at public hospitals.

“They will be staffed by existing general practice doctors and nurses and will be funded to assess, test and diagnose respiratory cases, including COVID-19, influenza and pneumonia.”

Since early March, Inglis Medical Centre has been operating a respiratory clinic for its patients, as well as providing service to other residents, if referred by their GPs.

Dr Yousuf Ahmad from Inglis, who is also the chairman of Wellington Pandemic Leads Group, acknowledged the united approach across Wellington Shire from general practices to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Other general practices and health services engaged early and by March 19, we had set up the Wellington Pandemic Leads Group so we could all support each other and importantly, share knowledge, and resources,” he said.

“Now we have opened this government-funded clinic, we have doctors from other practices offering to help staff it.”

Aspen Medical, an Australian-owned global company appointed by the Health Department, has delivered extra training in infection control and prevention to everyone staffing the new clinic, with the premises undergoing a comprehensive infection control audit.

Central Gippsland Health chief executive Frank Evans welcomed the opening of the clinic and urged the Wellington community to use the service.

“We are really pleased the clinic is opening at this time as the Victorian government is wanting to test an additional 100,000 people in Victoria,” Dr Evans said.

“We encourage all people who meet the testing criteria to take advantage of this service.”

To make an appointment, visit hotdoc.com.au, click on ‘book now’, type in the Sale postcode and click on the Sale or Wurruk links, then Inglis Medical Centre.

Anyone wanting information or assistance can phone the clinic on 5143 7900.

A nurse will meet patients at the entrance to triage the person to the appropriate consulting room for testing.

If access to electronic registering is difficult, the person will be assisted at the clinic.

Once the person has been tested, they will need to self-isolate at home until they receive their results – expected to take up to two days.

Depending on the outcome, they will either be referred for more treatment, or be cleared of COVID-19.