'STAY IN THE CAR': Why Ballina GP set up 'fever clinic'
THE Grant Street Clinic in Ballina has revealed it has set up a "fever clinic" in its car park to assess anyone who may have the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Dr Christopher Jambor said the idea was to protect patients with other illnesses.
"We want you to stay in the car until the doctor has ensured you are not a risk to anybody else," he said.
"We are trying to contain this virus, but we need to do it now, and we need people to understand this is what we are doing now, so that there is no fear and pandemonium when the virus hits."
The medico said he will be meeting GPs from other clinics to share their idea, and Grant St Clinic will be printing pamphlets for patients to read.
"The idea is that nobody is being turned away and everyone is protected," he said.
"We are having meeting with other surgeries, so that everybody is starting to look at doing the same thing, because it's the only safe way to stop the spread of this virus," he said.
The North Coast Primary Health Network said there was no current directive to set up flu clinics at GPs.
A spokesperson from the network said Mid and Northern NSW GP practices were being directed to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners pandemic flu kit.
"In-line with their pandemic planning guidelines, there is currently no directive to establish flu clinics at GP locations," the spokesperson said.
"Establishing flu clinics are a strategy designed to help reduce the spread of infection in the community by keeping potentially infectious patients separate from other patients. The aim of flu clinics is to enhance rapid access for patients to clinical diagnosis and specimen collection.
"As the situation evolves, and if flu clinics are required, they will be coordinated and run by local health districts."
The spokesperson said that where GPs have decided to adopt separation measures for triage, such as reviewing patients with fever and respiratory symptoms in a separate location.
"These are precautionary measures," they said.
"People experiencing symptoms of a viral illness are being asked to call ahead to your general practice. You may be asked to access the practice in a different way, such as staying in your car, depending on the nature of your symptoms and history.
"This is likely to become 'normal' practice as we come into the 2020 flu season combined with the evolving nature of COVID-19."