COVID 19 Fiveways Surgery Update 13 March 2020
By Dr Jared Dart BSc BA MBBS PhD FRACGP
Thank you for all the positive feedback regarding the last email/blog. I will continue to send these weekly or fortnightly to keep you up to date. Please use the unsubscribe button below if you do not wish to receive these emails.
Many of you may be concerned you may have COVID19 – please do not be worried, the individual risk to you is very low at the moment. The most common symptoms for COVID 19 are shown below – as you can see 81% of cases are mild. There may be many more mild cases than even this, as early data often overestimates the severity of a pandemic.
Even though many cases will be mild and feel like a normal cold it is still much more likely (at the moment) that you will have a ‘run of the mill’ ‘normal’ cold. We would prefer to assist you to care for yourself remotely by providing video/phone consultations, but we will also be running dedicated ‘cold and flu’ clinics from Monday 16 March for any patients with cold or flu symptoms – I will outline our approach and rationale below.
Symptoms of COVID 19
(Courtesy of The Conversation link here)
The WHO has declared COVID19 a Global Pandemic. This does not change much on the ground. It should raise your level of concern regarding overseas travel. If overseas travel is unavoidable you can book a phone/video consult with us to discuss your travel plans and how you can reduce your risks during your travel. The Federal Government has advised Australians to avoid all non-essential overseas travel.
The situation in Italy and Iran reflect the risks COVID19 poses if we do not take appropriate precautions. Please do not be complacent – the Aussie attitude of she’ll be right is great for many occasions but not for a pandemic!
Social distancing (Courtesy of The Conversation link here)
In the coming weeks expect to receive more public education from the Government along the following lines:
If you are at risk due to health issues or your age you should consider implementing social distancing techniques like avoiding large groups of people, not shaking hands, kissing, or hugging people (grandchildren included). When in public, you should pay special attention to hand hygiene and avoid touching your face.
Social distancing is important for at risk people, as well as reducing the speed of the spread of the illness as shown below. If the virus peak occurs rapidly, health care services will be over run, and people will miss out on lifesaving treatments due to a lack of beds, nurses and doctors. There are around 2000 ICU beds in Australia and even with the best health care rapid spread can over run capacity to care for sick patient. If our doctors and nurses get sick, there will also be less capacity in the health system.
Social Distancing in Pictures
Courtesy of https://imgur.com/gallery/ljS0CLI
If you are a parent, be advised schools may close at short notice and you may need to review your child-care situation. Grandparents may not be able to look after children if the children are at risk of or have been exposed to COVID19. Start talking to your employers now about working from home arrangements so you are prepared should the need arise. Children seem to avoid major illness with COVID19 but teach your children to wash their hands for 20 seconds while singing Happy Birthday twice (this is a good way to remember how long to do it). Here is a 30 second video –
This is how to use hand sanitiser
There is also some excellent material available here:
In response to the COVID 19 pandemic we are taking measures to protect our patients and staff. This will change the way we care for you, but will not reduce your access to our advice, diagnosis and care. GPs are very experienced diagnosticians and dealing with viral illness is bread and butter for us. So is looking after people in their own homes and knowing when they need to be in hospital. I have been working hard to develop a clinic pandemic plan which I will share to 7000 GPs via a closed Facebook group. I have also developed a home care package for patients who are unwell.
‘Cold and flu’ clinics
From Monday 16 March, if you have cold and flu symptoms, we will see you in a dedicated clinic using a separate waiting area and separate consult room. These will be run in the morning and the afternoon every day.
We will clean the waiting area and consult room regularly. Masks will be provided to patients while they are available. Patients sneezing or coughing will be required to wear a mask – no mask no consult, and you may be asked to leave the premises. We may have to become creative with mask production in light of the shortage. We will always use strategies which are safe for you, our staff and our other patients.
The ‘cold and flu’ clinics will be staffed by a duty doctor wearing protective equipment in order to reduce the risk of cross contamination and our staff becoming infected with COVID19 or any other infectious disease. This is a necessary step.
Unfortunately, due to the costs of providing this care there will be no bulk billed consults in this cold and flu clinic. We will continue to review our prices in order to recover some of the costs of this difficult time for the practice and our community.
We are offering private video and phone consults for anyone who wishes to receive advice or routine care where it is not essential for you to come in – the prices will be in line with our usual fees. People at high risk for COVID19 will not be able to attend the clinic and will only be able to access telehealth consults – including overseas travel in the last 14 days, anyone with moderate or severe respiratory symptoms, contact with a known COVID carrier.
Despite reporting to the contrary, telehealth consults will not be bulk billed and so far the Government has only committed funding sufficient to support 3 consults per week per GP for 6 months. As mentioned previously, if this upsets you please contact your local Federal Member Julian Simmonds MP email@example.com.
We are here for you and your family
Things will change but our commitment to care for you, your family and the community will never waiver. We will adapt to the challenge and ensure you have access to the care you need. You may need to change the way you engage with our practice during this difficult time, but you will not need to go it alone. If this seems all too difficult and confronting for you, please reach out to us – we want our much-loved patients to feel safe and supported. We are doing much of what we are in order to protect our elderly, frail or vulnerable patients.
Be informed, not alarmed.
We will be here to support you, as we always have.
More information will be shared in the coming weeks via email and on our website. We will reserve SMS campaigns for important information.
Yours sincerely and with my best regards
Dr Jared Dart
Director iHealth Australia