Hi all. Trying something new tonight - a short video to show you all how easy it is to enter our virtual waiting room for a videoconference appointment!
This will work on any phone, tablet or computer with a webcam, and Safari or Chrome web browsers.
-Dr David Chessor
March 30th, 2020
Our staff are seeing many more symptoms of anxiety and stress in people (including ourselves) during these rapidly changing and very uncertain times.
It is ok to feel stressed! It is ok to feel anxious!! It’s really quite a normal human response to such an unprecedented situation.
There are lots of things you can do, even in strict social isolation, to manage these feelings and try to look after your emotional wellbeing.
Quick tips include:-
1. Eat healthy and nourishing foods
2. Prioritise your exercise!
3. Make sure you maintain some social connection via phone or online
4. Get a proper amount of sleep
5. Make sure you switch off from social media for a set time each day
There are some amazing resources online to help support people to look after their emotional well-being during the Covid-19.
We’ve mentioned MindSpot Clinic, but would also really recommend Beyond Blue which has free counselling 24/7 during the pandemic, Black Dog Institute, and This Way Up (which is excellent, normally costs money and is currently free of charge) as excellent resources for people who are feeling just a bit more stressed and uncertain than normal, or having significant exacerbations of their pre-existing mental health problems. They are all free and easy to access from home.
Please also be reassured that symptoms of anxiety, depression or stress are important, not wasting our time, and work really well via telehealth!
Hi WMC community, we hope you've had an enjoyable weekend! We got a lot of productive weeding done in our garden 👨👩👧👧🌱🍀🌿🐌🐞
We've been seeing many more people paying attention to washing their hands on arrival to the clinic. Most people know that you need a 20-30 second wash with soap, but did you know that you should also be spending this long when you use hand sanitiser? This video from the World Health Organization (WHO) is a good demonstration.
Understandably, many pregnant women have expressed to us their worries about how coronavirus could affect them or their baby. Happily, the data so far has found that pregnant women are NOT at any greater risk of contracting the virus or developing severe disease. Also there have been no reports of the virus being transmitted to the unborn baby.
It's easy to feel a bit punch drunk from the constant daily changes to our lives and routine at the moment.
Looking after yourself, and your emotional wellbeing, is the most important underlying step to take that can help you remain grounded, and ultimately helpful to others as well.
MindSpot Clinic have released some great resources - https://mindspot.org.au/. Follow their Facebook feed for some great daily tips on looking after yourself. Today's pic is the one I need to work on!
Finally, a reminder that on Saturday, our clinic will be virtual, with telehealth ONLY! If you want to book on the phone, you'll need to do it tomorrow, as the clinic won't be staffed on Saturday morning. You can book a Saturday telehealth appointment with me anytime with HotDoc or on our website - https://www.westsidemedical.com.au/book-online
Tomorrow, an update on telehealth. We've been trialling a few but have settled on a main provider - Healthdirect Australia's videoconferencing platform. We'll be providing info and expanding the number of GPs offering video appointments. We'd encourage you all to consider spending the small amount of time needed to get video consults to work - it allows for a much more personal connection than just a voice call.
-Dr David Chessor
March 27th, 2020
Update Friday March 27th, 2020
After trialling a few different services, we've settled on Healthdirect Australia's Videocall service for video appointments over the next 6 months. More of our GPs will be adding video consults to their booking options over the next week or two, and we encourage all patients to consider video over phone as it is a much more personal conversation that is closer to a face to face appointment. We will continue, of course, to offer telephone appointments for those who can't access video or prefer audio only.
Our clinic now has a virtual waiting room for video appointments - accessed at https://vcc.healthdirect.org.au/t/westsidemedicalcentre/join. 5-10 minutes before your appointment, you just need to log in to our waiting room, and then it's a simple button click for your GP to enter the video appointment! If you have trouble entering the waiting room, it is possible to send you an invite with a link at the time of your appointment, but it does take a bit of time which would be better spent in consultation with your GP.
This program is a really comprehensive service - reception can send you messages in the waiting room to let you know of any delays, and your GP can send messages, files, or links during the consult.
It works on smartphones, tablets, or computers in your web browser without any apps to install. You just need to have the Safari or Chrome web browser.
You'll notice a new button in the bottom right of our website's homepage to enter the virtual waiting room, and all the details are outlined on our telehealth page - www.westsidemedical.com.au/telehealth
We hope you will give this videocall platform a go!
-Dr David Chessor
March 25th, 2020
We've got an important announcement about our Saturday morning hours. Starting THIS SATURDAY, 28th March, and continuing until further notice, we will no longer be providing face to face appointments on a Saturday morning.
Instead, Saturday mornings with be telehealth bookings ONLY, and Dr David Chessor will be working regularly on Saturdays to provide this service.
At present, you'll have to book these appointments by phone BEFORE Saturday, or via HotDoc or our website on Saturday morning. We're investigating the best way to manage bookings right now.
There are a number of reasons for this change - managing staffing during a pandemic when staff members are off sick more frequently, managing safety and infection risk for our staff in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, managing staff workload and burnout, and financial too. (Whilst we aren't doing it anywhere near as tough as many others out there right now, we are not immune to the financial pressures created by Covid-19).
We are steadfastly committed to continuing to provide a service for practice patients and will continue to review our opening hours and operating conditions as needed depending on the way the pandemic unfolds.
March 24th, 2020
Great news on the telehealth front today, with video and telephone consultations now available, bulk-billed to Medicare, for ALL patients!!! 🎉👏👩⚕️💻📱
Whilst there are still going to be plenty of appointments where people need to attend in person (immunisations, procedures, symptoms requiring physical examination, etc.), we continue to encourage all patients to consider booking telehealth as the first option. We can always get you in to the surgery if needed after an initial Telehealth appointment
As of right now video is limited to Drs Ryrie, Lyon and Chessor, but we’ll be expanding our video capacity to more doctors over the next week. All doctors are available for telephone consults.
Today’s changes included some new perspex screens placed up at reception. They make it a bit less personal and a bit harder to hear, but it’s very important that we protect our staff as best as possible over the coming months. Medical receptionists are the lifeblood of a medical centre, we wouldn’t survive without them!
We had lots of people seen via telephone or videoconference today. Some early teething issues to work through but we’re really appreciative of how accommodating patients are being, thanks!! 🙏👏👍
-Dr David Chessor
Sunday 22nd March, 2020
Some reassurance that of course we will continue to show up to work during this pandemic! We do, however, urge patients to consider whether you need to attend the centre in person, or whether telehealth might be a better solution during the Covid-19 pandemic. We don’t want people to avoid medical care, but avoiding the surgery when possible is a very good idea! For the next 6 months, we would suggest that you should consider the default appointment type to be a telephone or video consult.
Lots of people have asked about flu vaccines - we still don’t have stock but will be looking to roll them out rapidly, and safely, as soon as we have them in hand.
-Dr David Chessor
Saturday, 21st March 2020
It’s been a frenzied couple of weeks of change both inside our clinic and for society as a whole. The reality is that these extreme modifications to daily life have just started, and we all need to settle in for a long haul which is likely to last months.
Today’s pic comes from WMC GP Dr Elizabeth Ryrie - look after yourselves, and try to let go of the things out of your control!
-Dr David Chessor
Thursday, 19th March 2020
Another day of rapid change, with the announcement of a fever clinic to open at PMBH (date TBA), and a confirmed case in Port Macquarie.
We are increasing our measures to encourage social distancing in the practice to try and maximise space between staff and patients wherever possible. You’ll notice some tape on the floor at reception - this is 1.5m from our staff, please stand behind it! It is weird and will take getting used to, but a worthwhile and important change.
And finally, because other things are important too, I will promise you all a cheerful, NON Covid-19 post tomorrow. Any guesses what it is?!
-Dr David Chessor
March 17th, 2020
Covid-19 update Tuesday 17th March
There is lots of advice regarding social distancing going around at present which we would really encourage you pay close attention to. Simple things like:
*Minimising physical contact with others through handshakes etc.
*Standing or sitting a bit further away than normal in public places
*Avoid crowds and public transport if you can
*Minimising non-essential gatherings (we gritted our teeth and cancelled a 6 year old birthday party in our family this week 😩)
*Minimise visits to the shops, or our clinic (phone or video instead!)
*Pay with contactless payment instead of cash when you can
*Avoid visiting vulnerable people in nursing homes, hospitals, etc.
*Reconsider plans for overseas or interstate travel
*Work from home if you can
If you can’t do all of these, as many as you can manage is going to help slow the spread of illness.
You’ll notice some changes in the clinic to try and support these measures. The chairs have been spread out again (back into leaky roof configuration!) and we encourage people to sit as far apart as possible.
All magazines, posters, toys or books that could be fomites (objects likely to carry infection) have been removed, and all surfaces are getting regular bleach spray. It looks a bit stark and sad and like we are moving house, but it’s a necessary change for now.
-Dr David Chessor
March 16th, 2020
With all the focus on alternative ways of accessing our medical clinic at present, we thought a "What do I do?" summary to reassure you all about how to access care might be helpful.
For patients who HAVE been overseas or in contact with a Covid-19 case - regardless of symptoms - use HotDoc, our website, or call reception to book a telephone or video consultation. This includes all returned travellers in self-isolation 👩⚕️📱📞💻
If you HAVE been overseas within the last 14 days, and are currently well, but not in mandatory self-isolation, we will ask you to reschedule your appointment for 2 weeks from now. Thanks for your understanding 🙏
For patients who HAVEN'T been overseas or had contact with a Covid-19 case, but are unwell with any kind of cold/flu/respiratory illness - please call the clinic. Our reception team will arrange for a GP to call you back. Our aim is to sort out your problem over the phone if possible, and arrange an appointment in our isolation room if you need to be assessed in person. 🦠🤧🛑📞
If you currently have a cold or flu, and have an appointment planned for a separate issue, like a procedure or follow-up of results, please reschedule for another time when you are well. ⌚️⏰👍
For patients who HAVEN'T been overseas or had contact with a Covid-19 case, and are currently WELL with no cold/flu/respiratory symptoms, then I know this might be a shock, but we are open as usual! You can come in for a face to face appointment, or book a telephone or video consult.👩⚕️👨⚕️ 🗣
We can offer telephone or video consults to all. They are bulk-billed for
1. Patients over 70
2. Indigenous patients over 50
3. Patients with a chronic disease or immune suppression
4. Pregnant patients
5. Parents of children under 12 months
For all others, telephone or video consults are $50 for a standard appointment, but all out of pocket. That's $12 more for the patient than normal, and $27 less for the clinic compared to a normal $77 standard consultation.
-Dr David Chessor
March 15th, 2020
Covid-19 Update Sunday 15th March - Changing the Way You Access Care at WMC
Hi WMC community. Today, some important reminders to the way we are adapting during this pandemic to keep providing good medical care.
First and foremost, you don't need to avoid us! It is going to be vitally important to keep people's chronic conditions and general health well controlled, and minimise all stress on the hospital system.
We are going to great lengths to separate infectious patients and see them separately to the rest of the clinic. We also have a number of ways of providing care that won't require you to come into clinic.
TELEPHONE OR VIDEO CONSULTS
We are encouraging all patients to consider moving their appointment online. Click here for Telehealth Details
We particularly encourage people in at risk groups to move to telehealth
ONLINE SCRIPTS AND REFERRALS
We also have new, streamlined processes for online scripts or referrals. These are supported by our online booking system, HotDoc. They require pre-payment, but are FULLY refundable if we need to see you instead.
ONLINE MEDICAL CERTIFICATES
We are also trialling online medical certificates.
However rather than costing you money, and increase our GPs paperwork burden, we'd encourage you to try and get your work to allow self-certification first!
Coronavirus Update Friday 13th March - telephone and video consultations are here!
We now have the ability to offer both telephone and video consultations. These can be booked via phone, on our website or on the HotDoc app.
There is Medicare funding available for SOME patients.
*Suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients
*Patients over 70
*Indigenous patients over 50
*Patients with a chronic disease or a compromised immune system
*Parents of children under 12 months of age
Medicare funded Telehealth appointments will ALL be bulk-billed.
We will be offering Telehealth to anyone, but if you don't meet Medicare criteria, the cost will have to be entirely paid by you with no Medicare rebate.
Thanks to all our patients for your help and supportive feedback this week.
As more cases continue to be found, Australia is now in the MOST CRITICAL PHASE of controlling the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is going to spread, and spread to many, many people.
SLOWING THIS SPREAD IS VITAL!
It is true that most infections will be mild. But if it spreads fast, and there are a massive number of cases very rapidly, our health system WILL be overwhelmed with those vulnerable patients with severe cases, and many more people will die simply because we don’t have enough hospital resources.
If ever there was a time to put the community’s needs above your own, it is RIGHT NOW.
Wash your hands! Stay at home and use the phone when you are sick! Avoid large gatherings, and minimise travel.
Stay tuned - tomorrow - our announcement about phone and video consultations (still waiting for details from Medicare)
- Dr David
PS SORRY FOR ALL THE YELLING! (We can’t stress enough how vitally important this is)
March 11th, 2020
Wednesday 11th March - Coronavirus Rumours!!! 😡😩🤪
Hi all. We are heading lots of ridiculous rumours coming in about Covid-19.
One we would like to address right now - ‘The virus can’t survive over 27 degrees’. Covid-19 infects and lives in humans, whose temperature sits at 37 degrees or thereabouts. Don’t rely on some ridiculous rumour about temperature to keep you safe!!! Instead focus on the proven basics - wash your hands, cough or sneeze into your elbow, and stay at home if you are unwell.
March 10th, 2020
Covid-19 update Tuesday 10th March
Thanks again to all patients who helped by participating in telephone triage, and waiting in their cars to be seen in our dedicated room today. There remain no cases of Covid-19 in the Hastings, and we think we’ve got plenty of time to get these new processes running perfectly in time for when there are cases.
We’ve received quite a few questions about medical certificates for absence from work. One option is to complete a statutory declaration. However, we’re also pleased to announce that in addition to our online script and referral services, we’re trialling an ONLINE MEDICAL CERTIFICATE service on our website. Go to www.westsidemedical.com.au/online-med-certs
March 9th, 2020
Thanks to all patients, and our amazing staff, for your support today as we started implementing some major changes to the way we see all patients with cough and cold symptoms, including kids.
We are now trying to have a GP talk to cough and cold patients on the phone and if you don’t need to be examined in clinic, we’ll help you over the phone. We're yet to determine costs for this service and until we get it running smoothly there won't be any costs to practice patients.
If our GP feels that you need to be examined, don’t worry, we will assess you!! But we will ask you to wait in your car, and see you in our new isolated room with it’s own separate entrance. The surfaces in here are cleaned with detergent, then bleach, after every patient, and the room left to sit empty as per guidelines between assessments.
Some photos of our new setup for interest.
Latest Update for WMC Patients - March 8th, 2020
Hi WMC community
It seems increasingly likely that in the next day or two, ALL people with flu-like symptoms (whether they have travelled overseas or not) are going to be considered a potential case of Covid-19 (novel coronavirus).
This means ANY cold or flu symptoms, NO MATTER HOW MINOR.
*STAY HOME if you have any cold or flu symptoms. Don't attend work or school, and isolate yourself from others until you have recovered completely. Most people will not have Covid-19! However, treatment for Covid-19 is exactly the same as every other cold or flu you've ever had - you need rest and time to recover, and don't need antibiotics or other prescription medications.
*USE THE PHONE. If your symptoms are more concerning, don't attend a medical centre - call first instead. (Our number is (02) 6581 3007). If you come to our clinic in person with cold and flu symptoms, we will ask you to immediately return to your car to avoid spreading infection to others.
*STAY INFORMED. Follow our Facebook page, encourage other practice patients to as well, and check our website regularly.