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Wanaka medical centres readying to face virus

The following press release was published on the Otago Daily Times, as Wanaka medical centres prepare to face Covid-19:

Aspiring Medical Centre and Wanaka Medical Centre have announced they are working closely together on a joint local initiative with the Southern District Health Board and Ministry of Health, in an effort to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) in the local community.

Aspiring Medical Centre general manager Caroline Stark said they have set up a combined, dedicated team and facility to respond to any suspected Covid-19 cases, which will function outside our normal practice operations until the Ministry of Health has established Community Based Assessment Centres (CBAC).

All patients were now being screened via phone and online portal bookings and again when they arrive for their appointments, she said.

At this stage we have facilities for assessment and testing in order to help reduce possible exposure to patients in the medical centres.

“If a patient from either practice meets the criteria for assessment and swabbing, they are being asked to remain in or return to their cars and they will then be seen in the designated area, external to the medical centres” said Ms Stark.

Both practices are offering, where appropriate, alternatives to face-to-face consultations such as phone and virtual consults and taking steps to ensure patients can access their usual medical care – without unnecessary exposure to potential Covid-19 cases.

Both practices were also urging the community to do their bit.

Wanaka Medical Centre general manager Michael James said they were asking patients not to come to the practices without an appointment and that included the urgent weekend clinics that have normally operated as walk-in clinics.

“If patients have a sore throat, cough, shortness of breath or fevers and have travelled overseas in the last 14 days or been exposed to a known or suspected case, then we’re asking them to stay at home and use their phone”, Mr James said.

“This will not only reduce exposure to other patients, but will also ensure that our practices are able to remain open by decreasing the risk of our staff having to be quarantined at a time when the community needs them most.”

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