IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING CORONAVIRUS
Newsletter Number 2 19/4/2020
Dear Valued Patients,
The practice would like to thank you all for your patience during these difficult times. For everyone’s safety we are required to telephone screen all appointments to identify anyone who may be infectious to other patients and staff. We appreciate that this can be frustrating with longer telephone waiting times, however it is necessary at present.
The clinic wishes to reassure everyone that we are available to manage your healthcare needs and have put in place measures to ensure your safety when you attend the practice. We have strict social distancing policies and cleaning/hygiene practices. We are continuing to run our separate clinic in the adjacent tenancy for any patients with infectious symptoms.
The practice has expanded our telehealth [telephone] consultation service. All Australians are now eligible for telehealth services until the end of September [when the Government will review the funding]. The practice bulk bills all telephone consultations and appointments can be made for telephone consultations via reception or our online booking platforms. For problems requiring physical examination we again reassure you all that it is safe to attend the clinic.
The practice also thanks you for your patience as we endeavour to efficiently vaccinate our patient population for Influenza. We have been running dedicated vaccine clinics at off peak times, prioritizing the most vulnerable. We only receive a limited supply of Government funded influenza vaccine with each order, which is the main factor which limits the speed at which we can immunise our community.
Testing for Coronavirus
The Queensland Government has expanded the testing recommendations for COVID 19 to include any person in Brisbane with fever or respiratory tract infection.
REMINDER REGARDING THE CHANGES THAT THE PRACTICE HAS ADOPTED TO DEAL WITH THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
In order to protect the health of our vulnerable patients and staff the practice has introduced some screening questions at the time of telephone bookings. These questions will relate to whether the patient has any respiratory tract infection symptoms or satisfies any of the travel / occupational [healthcare worker] or COVID 19 contact criteria that would make them a suspect case. Our online booking platforms [Hot Doc / Appointuit] have clear instructions that patients with any respiratory tract symptoms or fever are not to use the online booking system and are to telephone the practice instead. If patients disregard this policy, we may be forced to disable our online bookings system. Any patients declining to answer the telephone screening questions will not be offered an appointment.
Patients Identifying as Having Fever or Respiratory Symptoms
The practice has introduced the following policies regarding the management of patients with any fever or respiratory symptoms [sore throat / runny nose / cough / shortness of breath]
- Patients meeting both the clinical and situational [travel / COVID contact / healthcare worker] criteria for a suspect case will be asked to present to a government fever clinic [Prince Charles / Brighton / Pine Rivers]. Do not present to the practice.
- Patients with fever or respiratory symptoms but without the situational criteria will be offered an appointment in our dedicated infectious symptom review facility in the vacant shopping centre tenancy next door to the practice. These patients are not to enter the main surgery premises. All patients are asked to weak a facemask [if possible]and to telephone reception on arrival. Patients will be seen by a doctor wearing appropriate personal protective equipment. It may not be possible for the patient to be seen by their usual doctor. The practice recognises the cooperation of ISPT, the shopping centre operator for their generous assistance during this difficult time. If patients require testing for COVID 19 they will be referred to an appropriate pathology provider for nasopharyngeal swab collection.
Patients Without Fever or Respiratory Symptoms
Patients requiring face to face consultations will be offered a normal appointment within the main surgery. Patients are encouraged to present to the surgery alone unless a care giver is necessary.
Patients requiring telephone consultations will be booked for a telephone [telehealth] consultation. We will need to confirm your contact telephone number at booking. The time given for the call will be approximate and may be affected by emergencies. The call from the doctor will be from an “Unknown Number” when it appears on your telephone. If the patient fails to answer after two telephone contact attempts this will be considered as a missed appointment and the patient will need to rebook. Sometimes following a telephone consultation, the patient may need to be seen in person [if not self-isolating], if a physical examination is required for diagnosis and management.
OTHER INFECTION CONTROL MEASURES INTRODUCED BY THE PRACTICE
*The waiting room seating has been rearranged to increase social distancing.
*Practice entrance door to remain open to reduce door handle contact
*Magazines, brochures and children’s toys have been removed from the waiting room. If you require any device to entertain you whilst you wait you should bring it from home.
*Discontinuation of nebuliser use to reduce risk of aerosolization of the virus.
*Discontinuation of care planning for allied health referrals until further notice.
*Provision of alcohol-based hand disinfectant for patients and staff
*Community education re infection control measures
*Appropriate Influenza vaccination utilising off peak times where possible. Private influenza vaccine is now available and is $18. Government funded vaccine is now available.
*Deferring non urgent preventative care activities where appropriate
*Increase in cleaning and disinfection practices
*The practice will endeavour to update our patients on further changes as the pandemic progresses. We are closely following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and relevant authorities.
*It is a difficult balancing act between caring for patients with infectious symptoms and protecting our most vulnerable patient groups and staff from COVID 19.
*We will post updates on our website, practice signage and via SMS. If you have previously declined to receive SMS contact, then you will have to notify reception to consent to this service if you now wish to receive SMS updates. As always, we encourage you all to update your contact details with our reception staff.
*We would like to thank you all for your understanding and cooperation at this challenging time. It is likely that the measures outlined will need to continue for some months until the pandemic is controlled. Further changes to the way that we operate may be necessary and these will be communicated to you. The best outcome will require us all to work together during this unprecedented event in our lives.
|Monday||6.00am – 8.30pm|
|Tuesday||6.00am – 8.30pm|
|Wednesday||6.00am – 8.30pm|
|Thursday||6.00am – 8.30pm|
|Friday||6.00am – 7.30pm|
|Saturday||8.00am – 3.00pm|
Our opening times may vary in the future if staff absences occur due to illness. We will keep you informed of any changes.
QLD transport has announced that drivers over the age of 75 will not be required to see their doctor for a new medical certificate and that their current certificate will remain valid until six months after the COVID 19 emergency ends.
If drivers have an “M” condition on their current drivers licence, they need to contact the Department of Transport and Main Roads on 13 23 80 or email email@example.com to have their current medical certificate extended.
Dr Lachlan Steffen
Dr Mike Pokarier
Dr Peter Hackney
Elizabeth Sullivan [Practice Manager]