HUNTER health professionals have been asking patients to wait for a phone call or text message before entering practices in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Rather than asking patients to sit in close proximity to others in a clinic waiting room, Hunter GPs and specialists have requested people wait in their cars or the car park for a call to let them know when it is time for their appointment.
Dr Kelvin Kong, of Hunter ENT, said apart from emergency situations, they had already ceased procedures and surgeries. But for appointments and check ups, they had brought in these extra measures to try to keep the community safe and well protected. The frontline staff needed to stay well too.
"I think sometimes people are not taking the implications of spreading it seriously enough," he said. "We could be going over the top here with these measures and N95 masks, but we want to make sure we are all very protected," Dr Kong said. "We are getting ready and training for the hospital for when this onslaught comes on, because if something happens, and no one knows how to do the proper procedures - that's where we are going to get into serious trouble."
Dr Lee Fong, secretary of Hunter GP Association and senior clinical director of Hunter Primary Care, said GPs were doing their best to slow the spread.
"The government advice on "limits on essential indoor gatherings" is applicable in this setting, with the recommendation that people should be able to maintain a 1.5 metre distance between people, as well as having access to hand hygiene products and rubbish bins," he said. "If that can be achieved in the waiting room that should be fine. But nothing is safer than not waiting in the waiting room at all - hence the wait-in-the-car option."
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