COVID-19 Update 15 May 2020 – Level 2

As a country we can feel proud of the efforts we have made and the results achieved by the level 4 and 3 restrictions. There have been significant sacrifices made but we have done far better at limiting the explosion of cases with loss of life that other countries have suffered. This link to the Financial Times show some interesting interactive graphs. We don’t want to lose those gains.

Evidence from Italy was that GP waiting rooms were a significant factor in the spread of COVID-19 which is why we closed our waiting room on Monday 23 March, even prior to the first level 3 announcement. We cannot go back to a scenario where sick people are together in the waiting room risking the spread of viral infections to each other. We will continue to expect you to use your vehicle as your personal safe waiting room as much as possible.

Prior to entering the medical centre you will be asked if you have symptoms of possible COVID-19, in order to protect staff and vulnerable patients. We are keeping a sign in sign out book of all patients entering the building to facilitate contact tracing if needed.

With level 2 we will be able to start seeing more patients in the surgery. We will still aim to manage as much as possible by phone or video consult but Reception will be able to start booking appointments again provided you do not have any risks of a viral infection. The evidence that we have suggests the incidence of COVID-19 in the community is extremely low, especially in the Eastern BOP. To have certainty and confidence around this a lot of testing will need to still be done for anyone with symptoms that could be COVID related. At present this will still be done via CBACs. We are still waiting to hear what the plans for CBACs are in level 2 (there may only be a testing station). It remains crucial that if you have any symptoms of runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever or loss of smell that you get tested and don’t just arrive unannounced at the surgery.

Walk-in clinics remain suspended as this is a major risk of sick people congregating and spreading infection. If you would like to arrange a consultation please phone before 11:30am. Reception will then arrange an appointment if appropriate for phone/video/in person. This will, as usual, depend on availability. If things cannot be dealt with by Reception you will be placed on a “Phone Triage” list to be called by a nurse or doctor later in the day or later in the week depending on the problem. 

Phone and video consultations are allocated the same amount of time as a traditional face to face consult and charged the same. Records are viewed prior, notes, referrals, lab request and prescriptions are generated and sent after so the remote consultation is not just the time spent on the phone or video link. Consultations for ACC and WINZ certificates can still be done by phone consult. Online banking is preferred to limit contact with cash/card terminal. 

Routine nursing and screening services will be gradually reintroduced so appointments will be possible for smears, diabetes reviews and cardiovascular risk assessments. 

We have been advised to defer Driving Licence assessments until Level 1. Licences that expired after 1 January 2020 have been extended to October so there is no urgency around these at present.

Influenza vaccination is still available and we have good supplies. This is available if you come to the door and knock between 9am and 3pm. 


Influenza Vaccine Update 5 May 2020

We have supplies of Influenza vaccine which in now available for everyone that would like to protect themselves from Influenza. If you would like a vaccine just come down to the surgery between 9am and 3pm and knock on the door.

Initially only those over 65 or those under 65 with chronic conditions who were eligible for funded vaccinations could be vaccinated. We can now offer vaccination to those who are not eligible for funded vaccines and wish to purchase a dose.

We have administered a record number of vaccines over the past weeks and this with the COVID-19 lockdown means that we have a very low incidence of influenza symptoms currently. If you would like to get a vaccination in anticipation of the lowering of alert levels and increased social contact please contact the surgery. If you are eligible for a funded vaccine it will be free. If not the cost is $30 for enrolled patients or $35 for visitors to the practice.


COVID-19 Update 24 April 2020

After 5 weeks of working with a closed waiting room we are approaching level 3 after the ANZAC holiday. This will see many people who have been on lockdown able to return to work, which is a great step forward. As an essential service we have been running fully staffed the entire time but having to do things a little differently to keep patients and staff safe and maximise the benefits of the lockdown by starving COVID-19 of hosts. 

As a community all of New Zealand can feel proud of what we have achieved in this despite the costs we have paid in loss of income, feelings of isolation in our bubbles and the inconvenience of supermarket queues. On the plus side we have had far fewer winter colds  than usual for this time of year.

As a small town community, Kawerau people have just got on with it and on the whole been very considerate of one another and the challenges we have faced. 

Of concern, though, is that people may be ignoring significant health problems. It is important to understand that the practice is open and we are dealing with all the usual day to day problems that arise. We just need to initially do it remotely but if needed we make an appointment to assess things in person. 

Please don’t delay seeking help for any medical conditions that you may develop. Some problems we can manage by remote consultation, some we will need to see you for and some may need referral to hospital. We have been doing all of this over the past 4+ weeks of lockdown and will continue to in level 3. What we don’t want to see is people who hold off on seeking help for problems until “COVID has settled down” and then find problems that should have been dealt with earlier and have become more complicated or risky by waiting. If you have a concern please contact us and we can make  plans to manage things appropriately. 

We have continued to provide influenza vaccinations and from next week these will be available for people that are not eligible for a free vaccination.


COVID-19 Update 22 March 2020

The COVID-19/Coronavirus situation continues to evolve rapidly. For accurate up to date information visit www.covid19.govt.nz. The following points are extremely important to avoid compromising ongoing GP services to the community. At risk people arriving unannounced risk spreading disease and forcing medical staff into isolation;

As of Monday morning 23 March 2020;

Walk-in Clinics are suspended until further notice

The Medical Centre is closed to everyone unless they have been triaged by phone and asked to attend the surgery.

If you feel you need to be seen please phone and leave your phone number and email contact address and you will be contacted for triage by a member of our clinical staff and an appointment arranged if needed. Our priority is to see those who need to be seen while protecting them from risk

Advice from the NZ Medical Association and RNZCGP on Saturday 21 March is that we move to virtual consultations via phone, email or video to limit the risk of spreading illness in people congregating in surgery waiting rooms. This is going to place a large load on admin, nursing and medical staff so we need to ask that you only contact the surgery for the most urgent issues. Please try and use the email script request form to keep the phone lines as free as possible.

Stay home if you are sick

IF you have any of these symptoms:

fever
cough
shortness of breath
sneezing or a runny nose
THEN call your GP, before you visit.

If you do not have a GP call Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453.

These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as colds and flu.

You also need to:

stay at home
avoid close or prolonged contact with other people
stop having visitors to your home, and
stay off public transport

ACC and WINZ certificates can at present be completed by telephone consultation so please phone to see if this can be arranged for your specific need.

With the Prime Minister’s Saturday request that people over the age of 70 or with underlying medical conditions stay home if at all possible, practice visits for routine 3 monthly reviews and prescriptions should be deferred. Please use the repeat prescription form , Manage my Health or phone for repeat prescriptions which can be faxed to the Pharmacy of your choice.

These are challenging times and we will need to adapt to manage and avoid overwhelming the health system. Social distancing will help to limit the spread of winter colds and ‘flu as well as COVID-19. This has to be our priority at present so we appreciate your patience and understanding as we negotiate these challenges together.


Breastscreen Caravan returns to Kawerau

photo of breast screen promotion display in the waiting room
Breastscreen display in the waiting room by Sarah

The mobile breast screening caravan is returning to Kawerau from 18 May to 12 June 2020. This will enable women to again access this important screening service without having to travel out of town.

To promote this, Sarah Morris, our artistic Health Care Assistant, installed one of her health promotion displays in the waiting room. This was prior to the COVID-19 lockdown and this post was due to be published at the end of March. The lockdown put many things on hold and it is good to see more normal screening services resuming.

For more information on the benefits of screening visit the TimeToScreen website.


Influenza Vaccine Update 4 May 2020

We have supplies of Influenza vaccine which in now available for everyone that would like to protect themselves from Influenza.

Initially only those over 65 or those under 65 with chronic conditions who were eligible for funded vaccinations could be vaccinated. We can now offer vaccination to those who are not eligible for funded vaccines and wish to purchase a dose.

We have administered a record number of vaccines over the past weeks and this with the COVID-19 lockdown means that we have a very low incidence of influenza symptoms currently. If you would like to get a vaccination in anticipation of the lowering of alert levels and increased social contact please contact the surgery. If you are eligible for a funded vaccine it will be free. If not the cost is $30 for enrolled patients or $35 for visitors to the practice.