Vale Professor Neil Carson – AO

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.

References:

  1. The Monash University. https://www.monash.edu/medicine/news/latest/2020-articles/vale-emeritus-professor-neil-edwin-carson-ao
  2.  PROFILE – by newsGP (RACGP).  https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/professional/vale-emeritus-professor-neil-carson

Update for our patients – 21st May 2020

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

Managing Principal

Update for our patients – 20th April 2020

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

Managing Principal

Update for our patients – 31 March 2020

We are pleased to announce that all patients are now eligible for Telehealth Consultations.

How to book:   Either ring the clinic for an appointment or book online.  ALL ONLINE BOOKINGS are now for Telehealth Consultations.

The GP will then telephone you at the approximate booked time (look out for a call from an unknown or private number) and then address your concerns.  Possible outcomes will include:

  • Dealing with the concerns raised by providing advice, scripts for medication, test requests or referrals, without the need for you to come in.
  • Organising an appointment for you to come in for further assessment and examination.
  • Organising an appointment for you at our Carpark Respiratory Clinic (see details below).
  • Please note, patients meeting testing criteria for COVID-19 (Coronavirus) will be referred to a testing site in nearby suburbs.

Carpark Respiratory Clinic:  For patients with coughs, colds or flu, but not meeting the criteria for COVID testing. This will be staffed by one of our GPs wearing personal protective equipment, in a designated section of our carpark. To access this clinic you MUST be assessed via a Telehealth consultation in order to get an appointment at the Carpark Respiratory Clinic.

Our aim is to keep our clinic free from potentially infectious patients and therefore ensure the safety of patients attending for an assessment, staff and GPs.

Significant thought and effort have gone into these changes in order to care for our patients and support them while they practise social isolation, to safely assess those with respiratory symptoms, and protect our clinic space for patients and staff.

We would like to sincerely thank you, our patients, for your understanding and gentleness with our staff while we navigate these troubled times together.  Your words of encouragement and support are much appreciated.

Dr Peter Lovass

Managing Principal

Telehealth consultations available

We are now offering telehealth services to improve your access to health care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  Current patients can now connect with their GP via telephone for a consultation.  If you are reluctant to visit the clinic in person for fear of catching the coronavirus, please telephone us to discuss whether we can help you in other ways.

How it works:

  1. Call Blackburn Clinic on 03 9875 1123
    Note: For emergencies always call 000
  2. Book your appointment
    Our reception staff will ask you some questions to make sure we can support your needs over the phone. In some cases you will be eligible to be bulk billed under a new Government initiative (see eligibility details below). With your approval, we will book a convenient appointment time and provide you with more information. Payment will be arranged at this time of booking if you are not eligible for bulk-billed telehealth services.
  3. You will be given a time window on the day of your appointment for the doctor to call your nominated number.  Please ensure you are available to receive the call.

Eligibility for bulk-billed telehealth services:

  • Isolated patients:
    • person has been diagnosed with COVID-19 but is not in hospital
    • person is required to isolated themselves in accordance with  home isolation guidance issued by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC);
  • Vulnerable patients (more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus), defined as:
    • At least 70 years old
    • At least 50 years old and is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent
    • Pregnant
    • A parent of a child under 12 months
    • Is already under treatment for chronic health conditions or is immune-compromised
  • Patients who meet the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection.  When you phone the clinic we can determine whether you meet this criteria.

If you do not meet the above criteria you may still be eligible for telehealth services, however, fees will apply.