A POP-UP respiratory clinic has opened up at Broadmeadow to help take some of the pressure off the hospital system and protect those who still need to see the GP.
At the front door of the Broadmeadow Medical Centre, a "concierge" greets patients, takes their temperature, and assesses them for coughs, colds, flu and COVID-19 symptoms. Those who have a fever or respiratory symptoms are directed to the pop up clinic in a demountable building in the carpark.
Those who do not proceed through the front door.
Dr Jeff Regnis said like most practices, they had been working "very hard" to protect their staff and patients from COVID-19, and had previously been seeing people with fevers or respiratory symptoms in the carpark.
"It was a bit hit and miss," he said. "Every time we'd have a patient with those symptoms we would have to glove and gown and mask, and we were burning through our personal protective equipment," he said. "With the clinic, it's three hours a day, and one doctor is seeing everybody there and only has to gown and mask once - they change gloves with each patient.
"But because it's in a demountable, we can thoroughly clean it out and we are not risking infection inside the medical centre.
"There is more than one reason to have a fever or a cough. If we think a patient has croup or an exacerbation of asthma, we can still treat that and write scripts. If we think they fit the criteria, as it currently stands, we will swab them for COVID-19."
Dr Regnis said people were "actively" not going to the doctor. Numbers across the board had dropped by 20-to-30 per cent, but they had been doing a lot of telehealth appointments.
"Part of this was to show people they aren't going to be risking infection by coming to the doctor, because we have a triage system at the front of the surgery. And with this clinic, people who potentially have a respiratory infection aren't coming in," he said. "If we can keep people away from the hospital system and using their resources, that's great, because that is where the pressure is going to be."
Dr Michael Kirton, a GP registrar at the practice, said winter was always busy with patients suffering from coughs and colds and sneezes. With the added threat of COVID-19, they had wanted to "gear up" and play their part in the crisis.
"With our clinic, it's run by doctors, and the doctors will see you and make a call on your respiratory illness - so if you have a runny nose, a cough, a cold, a flu, an exacerbation of your asthma, you need help with your COPD, pneumonia - anything like that, we can see them in our clinic and treat them, rather than have that load up at the John Hunter," he said.
- Cardiff business fined $5000 for breaching coronavirus conditions
- Only a handful of Newcastle Airport flights after Jetstar axes all routes
- 'You are safer outside than inside': Disease expert criticises restrictions
- The coronavirus crisis in Newcastle and the Hunter
- NSW isolation rules to last 90 days
- Stay up-to-date with our daily COVID-19 Informer newsletter
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we want to ensure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists, you can subscribe here