Country’s first drive through coronavirus clinic opens in Adelaide


The clinic, only the second in the world, has been set up in Adelaide and can receive one patient every 20 minutes.

If successful, more drive through virus-os could be organised in South Australia and across the country.

South Australia Health has said the clinic, at the Repatriation Hospital in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, is another way to test those people who might have become affected with COVID-19.

READ MORE: Follow the latest coronavirus updates

But you won’t be able to just drive on up and find out if you have coronavirus. There’s a process and it involves going to your GP first.

“This service is really specifically for patients who have already seen a GP and not for people to have a clinical assessment,” SA Pathology clinical service director Dr Tom Dodd told the ABC.

Staff at a drive through coronavirus testing at the Repatriation Hospital in Adelaide. Picture: David Mariuz/AAPSource:AAP

THE DRIVE THROUGH TESTING PROCESS
After seeing a GP, a patient would need to be referred to the drive through service and given a specific time to turn up with a request form.

With the paperwork completed the collection process should then be straightforward.

“Patients will just literally be able to drive through this side of the hospital, wind their window down and the specimens will be collected directly out of the car window by SA Pathology nurses who will be wearing personal protective equipment,” said Dr Dodd.

The service had the benefit of reducing the amount of time people potentially incubating coronavirus spent in busy clinics, surgeries and hospitals.

“It presents no risk at all for anyone working on the site and will support isolation of those patients until the results of their tests are known.”

RELATED: Federal government announces plan to stop coronavirus spread

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt specifically mentioned the drive in virus clinic this morning when he fleshed out a $2.4bn package of measures to tackle COVID-19.

“South Australia has a very innovative drive through clinic. We are building for the situation where there will inevitably be greater demand. Our job has been to provide the resources, to work with the medical community in designing this, so people have different ways to seek treatment.”

After being referred to the service by a GP, motorists can get samples taken without leaving their car. Picture: David Mariuz/AAP

After being referred to the service by a GP, motorists can get samples taken without leaving their car. Picture: David Mariuz/AAPSource:AAP

Amid reports of long queues outside hospitals as worried Australians get tested for coronavirus, Mr Hunt laid down the specific circumstances under which people should head to their doctors or to a clinic.

“If you’ve been in contact with somebody who has been diagnosed, if you have been in a high risk area, and you show symptoms, then that is when you should be seeking testing,” Mr Hunt told Today.

Free phone consultations with GPs and pop-up clinics to help hospitals handle demand will form part of the government’s coronavirus response.

Australians will be able to completely bulk-bill phone hook-ups with GPs to diagnose coronavirus symptoms.

The government has said up to 1.3 million Aussies could be tested over the next six months.

Mr Hunt said more than half of Australia’s 100 cases had recovered and it was unlikely people could be infected twice.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said it was highly unlikely people could catch the virus more than once.

“I think that’s a very important message to Australians,” Mr Hunt added. “So now is the moment of pressure … this is a once-in-50-year challenge that we face.”

Three Australians have died from coronavirus, with states and territories setting up specialist clinics as the government looks to combine information into a smartphone app.

PLAN TO TACKLE CORONAVIRUS OVERALL

• $2.4 billion to deal with health impacts.

• Medicare item so health services can be delivered by audio or video to people with symptoms at home.

• Respiratory clinics.

• National communications campaign.

FEVER CLINICS

• Up to 100 “pop-up respiratory clinics” set up across Australia at a cost of $205 million to test those concerned they may be sick.

• Will divert people with mild or moderate symptoms away from emergency departments and GPs.

• Clinics staffed by doctors and nurses will be able to see up to 75 patients a day over six months.

MEDICARE ITEM

• A new item will be created at a cost of $100 million, so people at home in self-isolation and quarantine can access health services and reduce the risk of exposure to others. Will start Friday and be fully bulk-billed.

• If someone has a chronic disease, like a lung condition, and is at risk if they contracted the virus, they could consult their GP via Skype or FaceTime.

COMMUNICATIONS CAMPAIGN

• $30 million campaign to start this week, using television, radio, print, digital, social media, public transport, shopping centres and doctors’ waiting rooms.

– With AAP



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