Dr Roger Halliwell
Gold Coast Primary Health Network (GCPHN) Board Chair
With the increasing impact of COVID-19 across Australia we are all part of a community under stress. And in the Primary Care sector we operate in, it is challenging our work, our businesses and it impacts on our personal lives. Wise heads suggest this crisis may take many months to play out and it is clear that the new normal will remain into the future.
We have also learned a lexicon of new terminology – COVID-19, Isolation, Quarantine, PCR testing, replication rate, to name a few. Most of our patients have embraced the guidance around reducing the risk of catching COVID-19, and the need for testing if any respiratory symptoms occur. We are grateful that this has given the health care system time to enhance the logistics needed to manage large numbers of seriously ill patients.
As we settle into our marathon, and work in innovative ways to manage patients ongoing health care needs, we also need to be mindful of our personal and family needs. Many have cancelled or delayed holiday plans. While this may have some logic to it (who wants a holiday without being able to travel), we are seeing a degree of stress and distress across all parts of the health care system that highlight the reality that non-work activities are still very important. I would encourage all to consider taking a break from work to recharge the batteries at home, or with close travel within the guidelines of the Queensland government.
GCPHN continues to support disadvantaged patients through commissioned services, most of which are continuing albeit some via telehealth. The Practice Support team are also active and will assist where requested. I would like to highlight the process of identifying vulnerable patients – either through Primary Sense or CAT Plus.
As we enter another phase with community transmission anticipated in the near future it remains important to continue engagement with patients. We often hear that non-COVID health management and illness is at risk of being under diagnosed and therefore under treated. The team at GCPHN will continue to walk beside the primary care professionals and the businesses they work in.
Dr Roger Halliwell
General Practice Gold Coast (GPGC) Acting Board Chair
I write this as we are starting to see COVID-19 cases in Queensland. Some would say it’s inevitable that we are given what’s happening in other states. Two Australian GPs are in ICU and medical centres have been identified in the lists of places of concern to public health. The ripple effects, both on business sustainability and the health of loved ones, are immense.
Now is a good time to double check your processes. What’s working? What isn’t? The RACGP has produced a resource for respiratory clinics, which has some helpful information and is well worth reading, especially for those of you who are seeing unwell patients in your clinics. There are ongoing conversations on the GPGC Facebook page about PPE and practice processes. Thank you to all who are sharing ideas and pitching in with answers to colleagues questions.
Residential aged care facilities (RACFs) pose a considerable challenge should there be an outbreak. A considerable amount of work has gone into response planning by our hospital and health services, as GPs however we are on the ground and acutely aware of the context. Hopefully if you visit RACFs you will have had communication from your facility as to their COVID-19 plan. If you haven’t, please ask! We are interested to know if GPs would find a WhatsApp group helpful, specifically to connect those working across the aged care sector. So often things happen late at night or over a weekend, traditional communication channels are unfortunately not geared up to be this nimble. Please reach out to us if this is something you are interested in. I am active on social media and happy to be messaged via Facebook or Twitter, an email to firstname.lastname@example.org will also reach us.
I would like to finish off by thanking Dr Lisa Beecham, who is one of our local GPs and sits on the GCPHN board. In response to the funding cuts for ECGs, Lisa approached our local federal MP Karen Andrews and secured a meeting time. I joined Lisa for this. Lisa articulated the concerns GPs were facing with the continual eroding of funding and the impact this is having on patient care. Karen was very receptive and our concerns were taken directly to Greg Hunts Chief Advisor. There has now been considerable media coverage of this with advocacy occurring across all our GP organisations.
We have plans for a small face to face GPGC meeting in August, with some amazing GPs and a couple of our local gynaecologists speaking. Look out for the invite in your email or on the Facebook group – you will need to respond quickly – numbers are limited. We have our fingers and toes crossed that this event will go ahead in a COVID Safe way.
Thank you all for all you do.
Dr Kat Mclean
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Updates from Dr Roger Halliwell (Chair of GCPHN) and Dr Kat Mclean (Acting Chair of GPGC Board). Dr Roger Halliwell Gold Coast Primary Health Network (GCPHN) Board Chair As we all settle into a less stressful working (and personal) environment, it is a great time to revisit the suite of services for...