After many months of isolation, we understand that there is an urgent need for many of our patients to re-connect with their GP. As the Covid-19 case numbers come under control and the likelihood that restrictions will be lifted increases, we will gradually transition back to our normal consultation format.
Telehealth will be available until the end of March 2021. As Government support for this is reducing, there may be an out of pocket fee of $20 for Telehealth consultations.
However, we will continue to bulk bill Telehealth consultations for Concession Card holders and children aged 15 and under up until 26th October 2020.
From 28th September, patients without respiratory symptoms will be able to choose between face-to-face and telehealth consultations. Normal fees apply for face to face consultations.
Those with respiratory symptoms will be assessed via a telephone consultation first and the doctor will decide whether face-to-face follow up is appropriate. We continue to run our Carpark Respiratory Clinic and symptomatic patients can be booked into this clinic by the doctor in order to keep the main building as safe as possible.
We plan to restart our preventative health activities as there is a justifiable concern that conditions are not being detected or acted upon in a timely manner. Early assessment of symptoms and prompt intervention can make such a large difference to outcomes. There is also a strong need for a higher level of emotional support and this is best delivered by a face-to-face consult.
We look forward to continuing to help you and your loved ones, whether it be by telephone or in person.
Dr Peter Lovass
As Melbourne experiences a concerning number of Coronavirus cases, the GPs and staff at Blackburn Clinic are committed to continue serving our community through this time.
Telehealth remains our preferred first option for contact. Many medical needs can be well served by this process.
We remain open for face-to-face consults for those issues that clearly require this, e.g., dressings, wounds, procedures. Obviously, detailed examination is also required for many symptoms. This will be arranged if necessary, after an initial telehealth consultation.
Examinations and procedures cannot, by definition, be done at the 1.5m suggested spacing. Our clinical staff and receptionists will be wearing masks. This is now a compulsory requirement for staff and patients.
We will defer some of our Preventative Health Care Programs such as the Over 75 Health Assessments until the current situation settles.
Patients with respiratory symptoms who require an examination will continue to be seen by our GP and nurse, wearing full PPE, in our Carpark Clinic.
If you have:
- a fever; or
- sore throat; or
- runny nose; or
- cough; or
- loss of taste or sense of smell,
please seek a COVID-19 test (see our home page for a link to DHHS testing sites), then isolate at home until your result is known and you are well.
As there are many other suitable sites for having a COVID test, we will continue to focus on our assessment of respiratory patients and other routine matters and, as such, we do NOT offer COVID testing.
Flu boosters are in stock and are a consideration especially for our over 65s and those with higher risk conditions whose immunity from the first injection may be reducing. Please call the Clinic to book in for this.
Finally, in this new phase of the Coronavirus Pandemic, extra vigilance is required. Please continue to adhere to:
- social distancing
- regular hand washing
- good cough etiquette
- and wear a mask whenever you are not at home.
However, please also remember that your health is about a lot more than Coronavirus. Adherence to preventative activities, prompt reporting of concerning symptoms and receiving emotional support and advice are more important now than ever.
With all this in mind, stay safe and please remember that we are here for you.
We are saddened by the passing of Emeritus Professor Neil Carson AO on 10 June 2020. Blackburn Clinic was founded by Prof Carson in 1952 and he maintained his connection with the clinic until his passing.
It was on the current site at 195 Whitehorse Road that Professor Carson first established the Blackburn Clinic general practice, using the lounge room of his family home as the waiting room.
Professor Carson was a pioneer in the field of general practice – his work helped general practice become a distinct career choice, requiring training specific to the field. When he became a GP there was no official training or recognition. Prof Carson was instrumental in bringing respect to the field, as well as initiating an ethos of continual learning and teaching – an ethos that Blackburn Clinic retains today. As a testament to his contribution to the field of general practice, Neil was appointed an Office of the Order of Australia(AO) in 1993.
Prof Carson attended both Box Hill High School and Carey Grammer. He decided early on not to follow in the footsteps of many of his family who were builders, and instead graduated MBBS from the University of Melbourne in 1950.
Professor Carson was a Fellow of the RACGP and member of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. In their tribute to Professor Carson, Monash University state “He came to Monash as the foundation Professor of Community Medicine (now General Practice) in 1975, and five years later was appointed head of the newly established Department of Community Medicine. A visionary and entrepreneur by nature, he realised early on in his career that GPs needed specialist training beyond what was offered in the standard medical degree, and was determined that their skills should be seen as on a par with those of other medical specialists.” 1.
Professor Carson used his skill of analysing people’s strengths to bring talented recruits into the department. He employed the Emeritus Professor John Murtagh AO, who authored several internationally adopted textbooks, including ‘John Murtagh’s General Practice’ (translated into thirteen languages and viewed as a critical resource by GPs for many years.)
Professor Murtagh told newsGP, “He was amazing to work with; loyal, supportive and caring for his staff. I was very impressed with him…. He was a leader, he made things happen. But he did tend to appoint people who he knew got jobs done. He’d seek out hard workers, and he expected results there was no doubt about that…… He had a lot of drive, he had a lot of knowledge, he was gregarious and people were attracted to that.”2. Neil was known to joke that he preferred workaholics to talkers because you knew you were going to get your monies worth. These attributes no doubt helped break through some of the barriers and bias he encountered among other academics.
Professor Carson set up the model of training for general practice that used good GPs to train new registrars as GPs. As a result, Blackburn Clinic was one of the first practices to be involved in teaching Registrars. This is a legacy that we continue today. Many of our current doctors came to Blackburn Clinic as a registrar. We learnt long ago to hold on to the best ones. Embracing the ethos of continual learning, particularly from your peers, helps the GP’s at Blackburn Clinic maintain their reputation as some of the best in their field.
Professor Carson also left Blackburn Clinic with the legacy of being a family practice that recognises the importance of family. Neil and his wife Bonnie had four children and Neil viewed the people he worked with as extended family. Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer and past RACGP President, Professor Michael Kidd AM, was part of Professor Carson’s training program at Monash University. As Professor Kidd told newsGP, ‘One of the things he said to me was, “You should be interested in the people who you’re working with outside of what’s happening in the university department; you should know about what’s happening in their lives with their families and their clinical practices because we’re a Department of Family Medicine, the department should be like a family” – and it was.’ 2
We are deeply indebted to Professor Carson for his vision, energy and leadership. He founded a practice that continues to have an immense impact upon the community of Blackburn. We strive to continue his legacy as a medical practice that provides the highest standard in clinical care and compassion to our patients.
- The Monash University. https://www.monash.edu/medicine/news/latest/2020-articles/vale-emeritus-professor-neil-edwin-carson-ao
- PROFILE – by newsGP (RACGP). https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/professional/vale-emeritus-professor-neil-carson
Following on from my last update (see Update for our patients – 20th April 2020), here is a summary of the services provided by Blackburn Clinic:
- we continue to offer telehealth (phone consultations) as our initial contact and assessment service. The clinic is open, safe and fully operational to attend to those issues that require a face to face consultation.
- all patients with a fever or respiratory symptoms that require examination will continue to be assessed in our Carpark Respiratory Clinic.
- flu vaccines continue to be well supplied and strongly recommended for all our patients. Please phone the clinic and we will see you for a flu vaccination within the normal working week.
- with the gradual relaxation of restrictions and many activities restarting, we are settling into our ‘new normal’ pattern of interacting with each other and need to reconnect and re-engage with you to perform important preventative health activities. These include:
- Skin Checks
- Over 75 year old Health Assessments
- Men’s & Women’s Health Checks
- 45-49 year old Health Checks, etc.
Thank you once again for all of your support and understanding as we continue on this journey together.
Dr Peter Lovass
On behalf of all the GPs and staff at Blackburn Clinic, I want to sincerely thank you for your patience and understanding, as together we all manage the coronavirus pandemic.
Blackburn Clinic continues to offer all patients a Telehealth Consultation as the first contact. This allows you to practise social distancing whilst still serving your needs. Should we not be able to safely or effectively manage your concerns over the telephone, we will ask you to attend the Clinic. Please be assured that we have taken your safety and that of our staff, as the highest priority, and have made a number of physical and procedural changes to ensure our practice environment is as safe as possible.
Telehealth Consultations are bulkbilled for Concession Cardholders, children under 16 years and those considered to be at higher risk of COVID-19. We have decided to offer a 50% discount on the “out of pocket” cost to our full fee paying patients for their Telehealth Consultations. Normal fees apply for in-Clinic appointments.
Patients meeting the criteria for COVID-19 testing will continue to be assessed by our GPs over the telephone, then directed to one of several testing sites nearby. At the time of writing, all patients with a fever or symptoms of cough, sore throat or shortness of breath require testing, as do unwell contacts of a confirmed case. Patients who require a clinical examination will be seen by one of our GPs in personal protective equipment in our Carpark Respiratory Clinic.
We continue to recommend flu vaccinations for all of our patients over 6 months of age. Our supply chain, procedures and the hard work of all staff have already allowed us to vaccinate thousands of patients. Flu vaccines are administered by the GPs in booked appointments throughout the week and on weekend afternoons. Please telephone 9875 1123 to book a flu vaccine appointment, as these cannot be booked online.
Finally, the stability of COVID-19 case numbers in Victoria fills us with the hope and optimism that we will soon see ourselves through this crisis. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to social distancing. Please remember, our help is only a phone call away.
Dr Peter Lovass