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 on the Sunshine Coast. The new clinic, established in partnership with Ochre Health and located next to the company’s medical centre in Sippy Downs, was launched today during a visit by Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace.
Mr Wallace said that this is one of the 100 GP-led respiratory clinics around the country the Federal Government is establishing to assess patients with mild to moderate flu-like symptoms that could be COVID-19.
“At this difficult time we need to reduce pressure on GPs and hospital emergency departments and keep staff and patients safe. That is just what this Federally funded clinic will deliver. If you have a fever, cough, sore throat, or other respiratory symptoms, this is now the best place on the Sunshine Coast for you to be assessed.”
People attending the clinic 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. They will receive clinical advice on how to manage their symptoms and an initial follow-up phone call or text message with any test results.
“The Federal Government has been working closely with local GPs, the Sunshine Coast Primary Health Network and Ochre Health, which has significant primary health management experience across Australia, to roll out this Sippy Downs clinic.” he said.
“By making sure that we can get many more tests done quickly and efficiently and keep potentially infected people separate from other patients, this clinic will help us save lives and move us another step forward toward relaxing COVID-19 restrictions on the Sunshine Coast.” Mr Wallace said.
Dr John Hall, Ochre Health Director of Medical Services and President of the Rural Doctors Association, said the clinic has strict infection controls and safety measures in place to protect staff and patients. He said part of this is a ‘no walk-ins’ policy.
“It’s really important that people make an appointment and follow our team’s instructions when they arrive,” Dr Hall said.
“The new clinic has been established to support people suffering from any mild to moderate respiratory symptoms, keeping them separate from other patients at general practices and health facilities, thereby protecting both staff and patients. It will also enable greater numbers of people to be tested for coronavirus, and for positive cases to be identified and isolated quickly in order to minimise the spread of the virus.”
“I encourage anyone in the local community experiencing mild to moderate cold or flu symptoms to call the clinic or go online to book an appointment. Anybody with severe symptoms should call 000 immediately instead.”
Pattie Hudson, CEO of Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast PHN said that the respiratory clinic is a critical part of the health infrastructure for our COVID-19 response here on the Sunshine Coast.
“By providing a dedicated space for testing and treating people with cold and flu-like symptoms, we can reduce the pressure on the rest of the health system, freeing it up for the day to day health issues that people face.” Ms Hudson said.
“We’ve been successful in managing our COVID-19 response on the Coast so far, but now is not the time to be complacent. Flu season is coming up, and we’re pleased that this clinic is up and running to support the Hospital and Health Service’s fever clinics, and our dedicated GPs in diagnosing and treating people with respiratory illness.”
“The PHN really appreciates the prompt and professional response that GPs across the region have made in adapting their practices to address this unprecedented challenge.” she said.
Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton, said the Sunshine Coast clinic is one of up to 100 dedicated respiratory clinics being set up across Australia 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.
To access the clinic, Sunshine Coast locals can visit health.gov.au and use the online booking system, visit ochrehealth.com.au/sippydowns and select “Respiratory Clinic appointments” or call the clinic on 07 5480 6010.