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COVID-19 Respiratory Clinic Open in Broken Hill

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Broken Hill is having its defence bolstered by the establishment of a new specialised clinic to diagnose patients for coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses.

A COVID-19 Respiratory Clinic has been approved by the Federal Government for Broken Hill and is in operation by the Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section (RFDS SE) at Hangar 1 on Airport Road under strict infection control guidelines.

Under the COVID-19 National Health Plan, the Commonwealth is supporting dedicated general practice respiratory clinics for patients with mild-to-moderate fever and respiratory symptoms.

Federal Member for Parkes and Minister for Regional Health Mark Coulton said two respiratory clinics in Broken Hill stand the city in good stead to combat COVID-19.

"This clinic has been set up to help screen patients in the Broken Hill community with COVID-19-like symptoms,” Mr Coulton said.

“While we have done exceptionally well in the Parkes electorate in limiting the spread of the virus, it’s clear that the risk of COVID-19 returning to our region still remains."

“It’s imperative we each continue our stringent social distancing and hygiene practices and that we download the COVIDSafe app."

“We must do all that we can to protect communities such as Broken Hill and ensure that we are well-prepared for any future local outbreaks."

“These clinics are an important development for the Far West as we continue to strengthen our local capacity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Federal Government is establishing more than 130 GP-led respiratory clinics across Australia to assess patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms. More than half of these clinics are in regional areas.

“These respiratory clinics are best placed to support people with a fever, cough, sore throat and other respiratory symptoms and will help to avoid the risk of infection in our local communities,” he said.

“The Federal Government has been working with local GPs and Aspen Medical, which has significant health emergency management experience in Australia and overseas, to roll out the Broken Hill clinic.”

Western NSW Primary Health Care (WNSWPHN) CEO Andrew Harvey says the development complements an enormous amount of work already undertaken by GPs and clinicians across hospital and primary health care networks, further strengthening the responseto COVID-19, and importantly also ensuring the vital business of regular primary care continues unhindered.

“This respiratory clinic provides additional capacity in Broken Hill to support early detection and reinforce services, and I’m very grateful for the support of the RFDS in helping to set up this important addition to our COVID-19 infrastructure,” Mr Harvey said.

“So far we have had 47 recorded COVID-19 cases across the PHN area, which covers more than half of the state, and no new detected cases in some weeks, which is testament to the preparedness, leadership and diligence of our region in meeting this global pandemic head-on,” he said.

Mr Harvey added that “While performing vitally important work in their own right, the Respiratory Clinics also provide added comfort for people without respiratory complaints to continue to visit their GP and other health professionals for regular check-ups and other issues, to ensure that small complaints now do not become major health concerns later.”

“I also cannot overstate the importance that anyone in Broken Hill and other parts of Western NSW who are experiencing any cold or flu-like symptoms, lie a cough, runny nose or high temperature, to make sure they get tested and stay at home,” Mr Harvey said.

General Manager of Base Operations and Service Delivery, RFDS South Eastern Section, Claudio Grasso said the clinic will provide new local opportunities.

“The respiratory clinic will open up new doors for us to support the healthcare of the Broken Hill community,” Mr Grasso said.

“We thank the Federal Government for this opportunity – we care deeply about our community and the clinic will put us in a strong position to protect Broken Hill against the potential spread of COVID-19.”

Under the COVID-19 National Health Plan, the Commonwealth is supporting dedicated general practice respiratory clinics for patients with mild-to-moderate fever and respiratory symptoms.

The clinics are staffed by local GPs who will assess, test and diagnose referred respiratory cases, including COVID-19, influenza and pneumonia, in a dedicated part of their premises, within strict criteria to safely manage infection control, as part of a FREE service to patients.

Working closely with the Department of Health and Aspen Medical, the WNSWPHN has collaborated with the Western and Far West Local Health Districts to ensure a collaborative response to COVID-19 across the region, while also assisting General Practices to meet the strict COVID-19 guidelines, navigate the contract management process and audit Practices as part of the selection process.

Residents experiencing any cold or flu-like symptoms are urged to make an appointment to be tested at the Broken Hill RFDS SE Respiratory Clinic by calling 08 8080 3780. The RFDS SE Respiratory Clinic at Hangar 1, Airport Road, operates Mondays and Friday, 9am until 1pm, and Wednesdays, 1pm to 5pm.