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COVID-19: GP Alert (24 April 2020)

April 24, 2020

Flinders Peak Medical Centre GP Respiratory Clinic now open

As a part of the Australian Government Department of Health’s response to COVID-19 testing and management, GP respiratory clinics are being established in the Darling Downs and West Moreton region.

A GP Respiratory Clinic is now open at Flinders Peak Medical Centre in Purga (Greater Ipswich) to clinically assess people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms (a fever, cough, shortness of breath, a sore throat and/or unusual fatigue).

If your practice does not have access to appropriate PPE/isolation rooms to assess patients with respiratory symptoms or test for COVID-19 when indicated, you can now refer them to the Flinders Peak Medical Centre GP Respiratory Clinic.

The respiratory clinics are staffed by GPs and will provide full assessment and management plans for patients presenting with respiratory symptoms. They are designed to complement existing fever clinics which have been established by the local hospital and health services and are generally staffed by nurses to assess and test only patients meeting current COVID-19 testing criteria.

Patients who present to the GP respiratory clinics who meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing will be tested accordingly, with results to be carbon copied to their usual GP.

  • If a patient tests positive, the patient will be referred to the local Public Health Unit.
  • If a patient tests negative, the patient will be notified of the result by staff at Flinders Peak Medical Centre.

Depending on the symptoms of the patient, the patient will be referred back to their usual GP and/or provided with a management plan.

Additional changes to MBS COVID-19 bulk-billing incentives

In addition to the changes to MBS telehealth items sent you in our previous alert, Federal Government this week announced the expansion of telehealth funding so practice nurses can provide ongoing care to chronic disease patients during COVID-19. The telehealth changes will allow videoconferencing and telephone services by practice nurses and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island health practitioners to be funded through the MBS, mirroring items 10987 and 10997.

  • 10997 Chronic Disease Management – service provided by a practice nurse or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner item.
  • 10987 Follow-up Allied Health Services – follow up service provided by a practice nurse or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner item.

Read the update information on the MBS website
Read the Frequently Asked Questions

Elective surgery

Category two (and equivalent) and some category 3 elective procedures in public and private hospitals can begin from 27 April 2020. There will be more information available for what this means in Queensland coming soon. Announcing the changes on the 21 April 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the following procedures could also recommence.

  • IVF
  • Screening programs (cancer and other diseases)
  • Post cancer reconstruction procedures (such as breast reconstruction)
  • Procedures for children under 18 years of age
  • Joint replacements (incl knees, hips, shoulders)
  • Cataracts and eye procedures
  • Endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has released a statement to guide the
reintroduction of elective surgery, including guiding principles, risks and the suggested approach. The
statement is on their website.

These arrangements will be reviewed by 11 May 2020, to determine if other elective surgeries and procedures can recommence and volumes increased.

PPE Project

PLEASE NOTE: The below should only be used in conjunction with the Queensland Health PPE recommendations and do NOT negate the need for surgical and N95 masks where clinically required.

Darling Downs PPE is a group of local Toowoomba businesses and organisations who have come together to respond to the need for face shield type personal protective equipment (PPE) in the region. The group have developed full face protection face shields for frontline healthcare workers to protect against patients coughing/sneezing. The shields are made up of 3D printed and laser cut parts and have been created by Toowoomba businesses. The shields will be donated to businesses/organisations in need, with the intention of recouping material costs through project sponsorship.

There are two different face shield styles - you can view these at the Darling Downs PPE project page: www.ddppe.net

Fill out the form on the website if you'd like to express interest in receiving an order of face shields: www.ddppe.net

The group will accept orders from general practices in the Darling Downs AND West Moreton regions.

Resources

> Kidney Patient COVID-19 Information Sheet – Clinical Excellence Queensland - This fact sheet includes information on changed service delivery for kidney appointments and COVID-19 advice for haemodialysis, home-dialysis and transplant patients. View the fact sheet here

> National Asthma Council - COVID-19 Asthma handbook - The National Asthma Council have developed a Handbook to assist health professionals in the management of asthma patients and COVID-19. View the Asthma Handbook online here

> AHPRA COVID-19 FAQ - AHPRA has developed an up to date COVID-19 FAQ. View the FAQ document here

> National Mental Health Commission: Communication guidelines - The National Mental Health Commission has developed guiding principles that may be helpful guidelines that may assist health professional communicators adopt a Do No Harm approach when communicating about COVID-19. View the guidelines here

Category two (and equivalent)

Upcoming Webinars

Wednesday, 6 May 2020 | General Practice Essentials Series: Chronic Disease Management & Care Plans using Telehealth in General Practice | This free HotDoc webinar will provide nurses, GPs, practice managers and reception staff with an overview of how to effectively and efficiently implement chronic disease management and care plans via telehealth | Register to attend this webinar

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affecting Health Care practitioners in the Darling Downs and West Moreton Regions: