Some GPs have recently had difficulties in coordinating care for suspected Covid-19 patients. Dr Brian Hughes of the LBH Fever Clinic provides a quick update for the current situation on the North Coast.

Criteria for being seen at the Covid-19 Clinic have changed rapidly over the last two weeks. The criteria as of 8 April 2020 are:

  • Respiratory infection requiring admission
  • Overseas travel past 14 days and respiratory symptoms
  • Contact with case COVID-19 past 14 days
  • Symptomatic HCW Worker (includes aged care workers and disability workers in residential facilities)
  • Public health outbreak control (includes aged care facility residents, correctional centre inmates/staff, other institutions, suspect cases in remote Aboriginal communities- 2 or more cases) or as directed by PHU
  • Essential services workers e.g. Police – symptomatic
  • Contact with a Backpacker past 14 days -symptomatic
  • Symptomatic- from or contact with Eastern Suburbs Sydney or Ryde past 14 days (other area defined by PHU – e.g. see below)
  • Symptomatic from Port Macquarie or Byron Shires
  • Backpackers symptomatic or asymptomatic
  • Referrals from GPs (Please call if issues)

Mark Ellem, TNR Chartered Accountants

Contact Mark Ellem        

COVID-19 has been a shock to many businesses and in a lot of cases will cause many operations to cease. At this stage, there is no way of knowing how long this health and economic crisis may last. COVID-19 businesses can be broadly classified into the following categories:

  1. Best case – limited impact to usual trading conditions

  2. Likely – some impact to trading. Reduced activity and revenue, increased costs to meet social distancing requirements, disruption to supply chains, employees inability to work due to third party closures, inefficiencies in productivity if they need to work remotely, etc.

  3. Worst case – forced closure periods or complete closure

There are a range of actions that your business may need to consider and implement to manage the risks associated with COVID-19. Actions should be designed after assessing the current financial status of the business so any measures introduced will assist with navigating through the crisis and also position the organisation to take advantage of the eventual recovery.

COVID-19 and washing hands

As if the expected upswing in presentations and admissions from coronavirus isn’t enough to send shockwaves through public hospitals the latest performance figures show that facilities run by the Northern NSW Local Health District are already bursting at the seams. 

Data released in the Bureau of Health Information’s Healthcare Quarterly Oct-Dec 2019 confirm that hospitals within the LHD’s remit (Maclean up to Tweed Heads) faced a demand increase on almost every indicator, including arrivals at ED by ambulance (up by 4.1 per cent to 8416 over the past year), a 6.8 per cent rise in elective surgery, and longer wait times, and a 5.7 per cent increase in admitted patient activity. 

In the year analysed, 19 more babies were born in Northern NSW public hospitals. 

Despite these increased pressures, the system generally coped well, sitting close to the NSW average results in most areas, and bettering them in some: Median time for patients to leave the ED is now 2h 04m – 51 minutes under the NSW average. 

Rochdale Theatre

In the latest issue of GP Speak we ran a cover photo of Alstonville GP Luke Hogan performing in Ballina Players’ excellent production of Wicked, The Untold Story, and a story about the wealth of theatrical shows that would be upcoming for the rest of this year. Local doctors were well represented on stages and behind the scenes,

The card for Ballina Players included the blockbusters Mamma Mia and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, with the story more generally profiling offerings from the Lismore Theatre Company in the recently refurbished Rochdale Theatre, and the unfolding season of the Lismore City Hall based NORPA.

No one could have possibly predicted that soon after the Autumn issue of the magazine was released all of these shows would be cancelled, along with the closure of all Northern Rivers galleries, museums, sporting events, restaurants and cafes, and many of the businesses that were only starting to rebuild after the flood of two years ago.

Bushfires destroyed this house in the Northern Rivers

The North Coast Primary Health Network’s three Clinical Councils have asked the federally-backed body’s senior management, along with the heads of the region’s two Local Health Districts, to place more emphasis on the “energy and environmental sustainability of health-care-related activity”.

In a recent letter the Hastings Macleay, Mid North Coast and Northern Clinical Councils acknowledged work to date on enacting sound policies – for instance, the Mid North Coast LHD’s Energy & Environmental Sustainability project has included the installation of extensive solar panels at Port Macquarie Base Hospital, saving $1/4m in two years.

However, the Clinical Councils spoke of a “climate emergency” and said they “wish to do more to both support and be supported by our state and federally funded health organisations”.