Coronavirus: Tomaree Community Hospital and Raymond Terrace Health Centre now testing for COVID-19

SCREENING: Raymond Terrace Family Practice within the Raymond Terrace Health Clinic is now a community respiratory clinic, which aim to help ease the pressure on COVID-19 screening in hospitals.
SCREENING: Raymond Terrace Family Practice within the Raymond Terrace Health Clinic is now a community respiratory clinic, which aim to help ease the pressure on COVID-19 screening in hospitals.

Both Tomaree Community Hospital and Raymond Terrace Health Centre are now screening patients presenting for COVID-19.

Just days after news that the Nelson Bay-based hospital had started testing patients for coronavirus, it was announced that Raymond Terrace Family Practice in Jacaranda Avenue (operating out of Raymond Terrace Health Centre) would be following suit.

The Terrace practice is now operating as a community respiratory clinic.

A spokesperson for the health department said that community respiratory clinics would help triage people with mild-to-moderate fever and respiratory symptoms, and ensure appropriate assessment, diagnosis, testing and management.

Earlier in the week Karen Kelly, executive for Greater Metropolitan Health Services, said that hospitals in the Hunter New England Local Health District would continue to screen for the virus.

"Anyone who presents [at either clinic] will be asked if they have had close contact in the 14 days prior to illness with a confirmed case; have traveled internationally in the past 14 days; have been on a cruise ship passenger or crew member who has traveled in previous 14 days; are a healthcare, an aged care or other residential care worker," Ms Kelly said.

"Patients who answer yes to any of these questions are directed to the testing room and tested by a registered nurse.

"All patients are provided with a surgical/procedure mask, instructed on how to fit it correctly and advised to use the antiseptic hand gel on their hands."

Dr Damian Welbourne, Raymond Terrace Family Practice GP:

Ms Kelly said that if negative patients would be directed back to the general waiting room to await medical review.

The entrance to Tomaree Community Hospital is staffed Monday to Sunday from 9-5pm by a health care worker and all visitors are screened prior to entry.

"We are monitoring the number of people coming through our EDs and reviewing the need for further screening clinics to be established in the district as the situation evolves. Many of our GPs are also doing a great job ensuring people who meet the criteria are screened.

"We are working closely with the primary health network to ensure a coordinated approach to screening and testing, and will update the community of any further developments."

The news has been welcomed by State MP Kate Washington.

"I was relieved to learn that there's COVID-19 testing capacity on the Tomaree peninsula and now at Raymond Terrace. With the testing close to home, our community can stay safer and have peace of mind that the services they need are nearby," she said.

"In addition to local testing, I have been seeking a plan for our area in the event of a local coronavirus outbreak from the health minister. Whilst no such plan has been shared with me, I've been assured that our community's health needs will be well met. I will continue to seek the substance behind the assurances."

TESTING: Tomaree Community Hospital is testing patients for COVID-19.

TESTING: Tomaree Community Hospital is testing patients for COVID-19.

Ms Washington also paid tribute and deepest gratitude to all those people working on the frontline during the public health crisis.

"That includes our hardworking nurses, doctors, health workers and pharmacists and their staff."

With the 2020 flu season not far away, Port residents - and especially those in vulnerable groups or age brackets - should arrange vaccination against seasonal influenza during April.

Federal MP David Gillespie urged Australians to speak to their GP, pharmacist or aged care provider to arrange a flu vaccination.

"Whilst flu vaccination does not prevent against COVID-19, it is critical to protecting the general health of Australians from influenza, and preventing an unnecessary burden on our hospitals of seasonal flu," he said.

The National Immunisation Program provides free vaccines to those most at risk, including pregnant women; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over six months; people aged over 65 years; people with certain medical risk factors; and all children aged between six months and five years.

For information on the flu or COVID-19 go to health.gov.au.