Medical clinics on alert

Dr Julie Tullett 2  TBW Newsgroup
ON THE FRONTLINE: Dr Julie Tullett triages incoming patients arriving at Hawkins Medical Clinic on Sturt Street, which includes checking their temperature and recent travel movements. If they have a temperature, patients may be told to wait in the car for further instructions and advice. Picture: SANDRA MORELLO

THE region’s largest medical clinic has swept in unprecedented measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Mount Gambier.

While there had been no confirmed cases in Mount Gambier, Hawkins Medical Clinic yesterday began triaging patients arriving at its Sturt Street clinic in a bid to protect vulnerable patients, the community and staff.

Doctors – dressed in protective gear and masks – will check people’s temperature and travel movements before being allowed into the clinic.

The news comes as another nine people in South Australia are confirmed to have the COVID-19, which takes the number to 29.

SA Health confirmed yesterday it would not notify the public of any COVID-19 cases in Mount Gambier or the Limestone coast due to “privacy reasons”.

It is understood dozens of people across the region have been tested for COVID-19, which has a global death toll of 6000 people.

“All patients arriving at Hawkins Medical Clinic, Sturt Street, will be triaged before entry,” practice manager Dale Beatty said.

“Patients with coughs, colds, sore throats or fever symptoms will be treated either in their car or be offered a telehealth option.”

While there were no reported cases yesterday of COVID-19 in the South East, Mr Beatty said the clinic was working through a plan to safeguard the community.

He said these measures also included social distancing within its waiting rooms and effective personal hygiene encouraged.

“Our walk in paediatric patients will be asked to park in our front car park (off Sturt Street) where they will be telephoned in order to bring their child into our emergency room for access to our paediatric doctor,” Mr Beatty said.

Patients who have travelled overseas and have respiratory symptoms are encouraged to ring their GP before attending so that appropriate arrangements can be implemented.

“We understand that some of the above measures may be inconvenient however they are being implemented to protect our patients, our doctors and our staff to ensure we can continue to provide medical services to our patients,” Mr Beatty said.

“Keeping all our patients up to date with the latest adjustments to clinic operating is one of our highest priorities at this time as we work to slow the spread of the virus.

From yesterday, all patients calling for an appointment will be verbally screened for risk factors before being offered an appointment.

All appointments must be pre-booked.

The clinic’s patient population deemed most at risk will be offered a telephone consult with a doctor, with eligible patients to be bulk-billed for the service.

“We are also trialling a triage station at the front door. Patients will be screened for fever/cough/cold symptoms at the door. If unwell, you may be asked to wait in your car or call the clinic for a telephone appointment,” Mr Beatty said.

“We have spread out the chairs in our waiting areas to encourage social distancing. We know this makes our waiting areas look different – but do not be alarmed.”

“We are monitoring the situation and are prepared to respond to changes in circumstances.”

A number of doctors will also be relocated to its Pinehall Avenue clinic in coming weeks to better prepare for the spread of COVID-19.

These include Drs Peter Charlton, Diana Cross, Michael Bruorton, Tim Harrison, Martine Mitchell, Ron Wallingford and Karen Humphrey.

Patients with existing appointments will be contacted and advised of the change of location of their appointment.

1 comment

Thank God, line astern, for our Prime Minister who set up the National Cabinet with State leaders and our Federal Health chief, and for our city and regional doctors, nurses and general health workers. They’ll be tired and well worn before this is over…….let’s pray for them and lower the panic levels….they’ve got enough on their plates now.

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