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.

Blackburn Clinic response to Coronavirus- letter to our patients

CLICK HERE to see the letter from our Managing Principal, Dr Peter Lovass, or view the content below.

18 March 2020

Dear Patients

At the time of writing the number of cases of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) in Victoria are increasing in a concerning manner.  There are major changes being recommended by our health authorities to manage the risk that this condition poses to our population.

Recently the government announced a 14-day self-isolating guideline for any international traveller arriving in Australia.  It should be noted that almost all cases are related to international travellers or close contacts of confirmed cases. There is (at this stage at least) very minimal community transmission.

Please be assured that we are fully compliant with all state and federal government health directives.  Furthermore, we are undertaking a large range of steps to ensure the safety and well being of our patients, particularly the senior members of our population and those with chronic health issues who appear to be more at risk of complications from this infection.

The case definition that leads to possible testing is now strictly one of the following three groups:

  1. Fever or acute respiratory infection (eg. Shortness of breath or cough) AND
  1. Either international travel in the 14 days before the onset of illness OR
    1. Close contact in the 14 days before illness onset with a confirmed case of COVID 19.
          1. Patients with severe pneumonia in intensive care with or without a history of travel.
          1. Health care workers, residential aged care workers or aged care residents with a fever (more than 37.5) and an acute respiratory illness.

These patients are being screened by our receptionists with advice on our website, phone message system and posters and will be directed to attend the Box Hill Hospital testing site for assessment.  Due to the need to protect our senior and vulnerable patients as much as possible as well as a national shortage of personal protective equipment for our doctors, these patients will not be assessed in our clinic.

To reduce the risk to our vulnerable patients, we are offering telephone consultations.

This is a compromise due to the extreme circumstances that we find ourselves in.  Best care will come from face-to-face consultations but in certain circumstances and for select patients, Medicare is allowing a telephone consult in the short term.

Please contact our Reception team for further advice.

We want to thank you sincerely for your trust in us and as a whole Clinic we stand prepared to assist you through these challenging times.

Yours sincerely

Dr Peter Lovass

Managing Principal

2020 Influenza vaccines

Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all people aged 6 months and over, but only the categories below are eligible for free influenza vaccines under the National Immunisation Program (NIP):

  • ages 6 months to less than 5 years
  • ages 65 years and above
  • pregnant women (during any stage of pregnancy)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • people who have certain medical conditions which increase the risk of influenza disease complications (cardiac disease, chronic respiratory conditions, chronic neurological conditions, immunocompromising conditions, diabetes and other metabolic disorders, renal disease, haematological disorders, and children aged 6 months to 10 years taking long-term aspirin therapy).

All influenza vaccines available in 2020 will be quadrivalent vaccines.  We hope that vaccines will be available from mid-April 2020 and patients WILL NEED TO PHONE to book into a Flu Clinic.

Please do not book online if you want a flu vaccine – please phone us on 9875 1123 so that we can record sufficient details to facilitate supply of the correct vaccine (as different vaccines must be used for different age groups).

Clinics will be held both Mon-Friday and on Sundays, starting mid-April (subject to vaccine availability).  The cost for the vaccine (if not eligible under the NIP) is not yet confirmed but is likely to be around $20.  Flu Clinic consultations (which do not address anything other than the flu vaccine) will be billed to Medicare.  If you have your flu vaccine as part of a normal consultation with your regular doctor, normal consultation fees will apply.