Patient Update – Coronavirus (COVID-19) & Telehealth

Patient Alert – Coronavirus (COVID-19)
March 3, 2020
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Hello Patients!

This post is to keep you up to date with what we are doing here in response to COVID-19 and how that might change your appointment with us.

On Friday the 13th March, the Government announced their increased restrictions on COVID -19 testing. In response to this announcement we decided to change how we normally see our patients, to minimise the risk of COVID-19  for our patients, practitioners and staff.

Moving to Telehealth?

As COVID-19 can show itself to be like what we all know as the “flu” or a “cold”, we decided that all patients that have symptoms similar to a cold / flu, need to be seen via Telehealth, and stay away from the medical practice. As we cannot test all patients we won’t know if the person we have in front of us has a cold or is suffering mild symptoms of COVID-19, this is of course a concern for everyone. I would like to stress that at the time of writing this post there are no infections in Geraldton WA, and no recorded community spread in WA.  We are preparing for this potential, and more importantly giving patients and staff the peace of mind that we are limiting their exposure to this risk.

So what is Telehealth?

Telehealth or Tele-medicine is having a consult with your GP, but over the phone or over a video link. There are limitations but for things like the common cold or flu it is most effective.

I think I just have cold / flu what do I do?

Things like the common cold or flu are virus’s, and unfortunately  there is not a lot that your local GP can actually do for them. This is why we recommend that if you think you have a common cold or flu, stay at home, isolate, keep your fluids up ( very important) , binge on your favourite TV series and let it go its course.  Please don’t go to work, or school, or be in areas where there are people in close contact. Practise great hand hygiene and cough etiquette.  If however you are concerned, or your virus goes on for 5 days or more and it is showing no signs of letting up , give us a call for a telehealth consult.  This also goes for other symptoms like having an associated rash, vomiting and diarrhoea or you have other complications that make these nasty viruses a bit of extra trouble for you. Check out this healthdirect site for more helpful information on battling cold and flu.

I have an appointment for my cold / flu / sore throat coming up, what should I do?

If this is you, please can you give us a quick call so that we can change your appointment over to a telehealth appointment,  and fill you in with the details.  If you come to us on the day without doing so you will be asked to return to your car and we will  consult with you over the phone. We don’t mean this to be rude, we just don’t have any other way to identify you from our appointment book as having booked in for a cold / flu.

How much does it cost?

The main reason we have never offered telehealth visits between you and your GP until now is because Medicare does not cover them. This means that medicare will not cover some of your costs that you pay your GP and so it is all out of pocket for you. This unfortunately is still the case normally but the government has just released limited Medicare coverage during this COVID-19 outbreak for telehealth! These new and temporary medicare items do not cover everyone, so I am afraid if you do not fall under Medicare’s eligibility the cost will be fully out of pocket. We have discounted our fees for these though, in respect of the lack of rebate you will be receiving.

The benefits of telehealth are pretty great though, and we hope to expand it to support our vulnerable patients, beyond just looking after their coughs and colds. Here are just a few of the benefits:

You don’t have to:

  • Drive in
  • Find a car parking space
  • Queue up (and we are really busy so there are queues)
  • Sit in a waiting room for the GP

You can

  • Sit at home
  • Have a cuppa
  • Stay in bed!
  • Do your own thing, while waiting for your consult
  • Stay isolated and safe!

Influenza Vaccines

Just a quick note on these vaccines. Stock is not likely to be available till mid April. We will keep you up to date.

Please call us with any queries, our online appointment are still offline for the moment.

All the best,

The Panaceum Group Team