Queensland coronavirus clinic an Australian first
The first GP-led rural respiratory clinic established as part of the Australian Government's $2.4 billion health package to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak has opened today in Emerald, Queensland.
Minister for Regional Health Mark Coulton said the Government has committed to establishing up to 100 GP-led respiratory clinics around the country to assess patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19-like symptoms.
"It's important we have local doctors leading the local response and preparation for their communities," Mr Coulton said.
"The clinics will help to reduce pressure on hospital emergency departments and other general practice clinics.
"Australians living in rural, regional and remote parts of the country have older populations and higher prevalence of chronic conditions, and we know the risk of serious illness with the virus increases with those factors.
"I want to assure regional Australians that our number one priority is protecting and supporting communities through COVID-19.
"Local respiratory clinics will enable concerned members of the community to get tested if they meet the eligibility criteria, and receive the appropriate medical advice without posing a risk to other patients in the clinic who may be seeing their GP for a non-COVID-19 related reason.
"These respiratory clinics will be best placed to support people with a fever, a cough, a sore throat, and other respiratory symptoms and help to minimise the risk of infection in the communities."
Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine president Ewen McPhee said he was ready to open the doors of the first GP Respiratory Clinic in regional Australia at the Emerald Medical Clinic.
"GP and mobile respiratory clinics are a welcome addition to health services in rural and remote communities and will help ease the pressure on local doctors and existing health services when responding to the outbreak," Dr McPhee said.
"Rural doctors are on the front line in their communities fighting this pandemic and I'm very pleased at the rate in which these local clinics can be established with support from Aspen Medical and the Department of Health."
Mr Coulton said the Government was working with local GPs and Aspen Medical, which has significant health emergency management experience in Australia and overseas, to mobilise and rollout the clinics.
"We are very focused on ensuring rural and regional communities are prepared to respond to this pandemic," Mr Coulton said.
"That's why we are putting in place a range of measures including additional practice incentives and the expansion of telehealth to enable the rural medical workforce to continue to care for rural people."
Source - World Health Organization, Johns Hopkins, other media
The Government is establishing clinics across Australia including in regional areas such as the Riverina, Gippsland, Central Victoria, NSW North Coast, Western Queensland, Darling Downs, Tasmania and rural Northern Territory.
The National Rural Health Commissioner is also assisting in mobilising sites in country South Australia and regional Western Australia.
The Government is investing $206.7 million to establish these dedicated respiratory clinics in rural and regional areas in each state and territory.
To access a clinic, people can visit health.gov.au and use the online booking.
Originally published as Queensland coronavirus clinic an Australian first