COVID-19: A message from Dr Angelo Virgona

20 March 2020

It’s pretty clear that social distancing is the most important intervention that we can provide and promote. It falls to us as clinicians and citizens to do what we can to minimise spread.

  • Telehealth Items:

Many of you advocated for telehealth items, and the College FAQ’s on this are being distributed. Those in group (v) is already under treatment for chronic health conditions or is immune compromised , by any reasonable definition, would include many, if not most, of our patients.   

People are also concerned that these Items are bulk-billed only, and that NEW patients are excluded.

We have raised these issues with John Allan and Andrew Peters, who are taking  to Government and will advise.

  • Different groups of private clinicians have started to use telehealth whenever possible and keeping waiting rooms as empty as possible. Phone and Text are powerful tools: maximise their utility. My private practice group is going through patient lists and minimising any face to face work.  
  • Those working in private hospitals will probably see: postponing group programs and group activities, closing of gyms, staggering meal times, no/restricted visitors...... if your hospitals aren’t taking such actions, agitate!
  • Not sure about public hospital situation, but I imagine NSW Health is onto it, in similar fashion.

It’s crucial that we keep well and not be backward or shy in dealing with the crisis. I kicked out (very nicely) a patient (cold) and family member (back from cruise with sniffles!!!) and then followed up by phone. People are questioned before they come, or at the door, about travel/symptoms/contacts, surfaces are being wiped, masks in office to use prn. And... a lot of us are at the wrong end of the age curve, so caution is critical.

The important thing is to limit spread to keep the death rate down.

Would be great to hear what others are doing.