Update for patients – 28 July 2020

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.

Peter Lovass
Managing Principal.

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.

 

 

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.

Coronavirus

If you suspect you may have Coronavirus, please TELEPHONE US (9875 1123) FOR INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE ATTENDING the clinic.  

The Department of Health and Human Services has established a telephone information hotline for the public at 1800 675 398.

Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

Further information about the Coronavirus is available here: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorian-public-novel-coronavirus

To protect yourself from Coronavirus:

  • You should pay close attention to good hand hygiene. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially before eating and after using the toilet.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with a tissue – or cough into your elbow. Dispose of the tissue into a bin and then wash your hands afterwards.
  • Face masks are not recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services for use by members of the public in Victoria, although anyone who wants to be cautious can of course choose to wear one.
  • Check current travel advice (links are shown on the DHHS website shown above) before travelling.

 

Patient Experience Survey Results 2019

Thank you to the 313 patients at Blackburn Clinic who took the time to complete a Patient survey recently.  We will use your feedback to review and improve our general practice.

Did you realise that you are no more out of pocket for a Long Consultation than a Standard Consultation?

Many patients noted that, on occasion, their doctor runs late.  Some patients also commented that they would like more time during their consultation.  This got us thinking about why doctors run late.  Sometimes this happens due to unforeseeable medical emergencies, but more commonly the reasons relate to earlier consultations running overtime—either because insufficient time was booked, or extra family members were squeezed into the appointment rather than having a separate time booked.

We aim to keep the Gap the same for both standard and long consultations.  Medicare rebates are credited to patient accounts within 48 hours of the consultation (often same day), giving you another reason to book the time that you need.

Your doctor doesn’t mind—In fact, we encourage patients to book long consultations if they feel they need to spend longer with their doctor, and especially if they have several issues that they wish to have addressed by the doctor.

Our doctors don’t enjoy running late and they don’t want you to be inconvenienced, so if you need more time please book a longer appointment.  Our online booking system does not yet allow for longer appointments but we are working with our software provider towards a solution for this.  In the meantime, please telephone the clinic in order to book a longer appointment.

This table shows scores by topic area, benchmarked against similar sized general practices in similar metropolitan locations. BLACKBURN CLINIC (more than 6 full time GPs) BLACKBURN SPECIALIST CENTRE
(2-4 full time GPs)
Domain Our mean score (%) Benchmark score (%) Our mean score (%) Benchmark score (%)
1– Access and availability 73 70 77 76
2-Provision of information 76 75 81 81
3-Privacy and confidentiality 81 76 85 81
4-Continuity of care 75 74 79 81
5-Communication skills of staff 87 83 91 87
6-Interpersonal skills of clinical staff 89 84 92 88

Things we’d like to score better on:

Seeing doctor of choice—we make no apology for having great doctors!  They are so popular it is no wonder they are often booked up in advance.  We recommend that every patient chooses a “back-up doctor” from the quality group of GPs available at Blackburn Clinic and Blackburn Specialist Centre.  That way you can get to know a second doctor, so that when your first choice isn’t available you can still see someone familiar.  In an ideal world we’d love to always have your favourite GP available, but until cloning becomes commonplace we just can’t achieve this.  Our doctors are a team and they don’t mind sharing!

Telephone access to a doctor—If you phone the clinic requesting to speak to your doctor, you may be asked to leave a number on which you can be contacted. Most doctors return phone calls at the end of their session (either during their lunch break or at the end of the day).  If the matter is urgent, either your doctor, another doctor or the practice nurse will be able to take your call immediately.

Please understand that in many instances, the doctor or nurse will be unable to provide advice over the telephone. Blackburn Clinic is very conscious of the risk of providing incorrect advice over the phone, and wherever possible, patients are encouraged to attend the clinic in person.

Home visits—We note that over half of the 313 patients who completed a survey at Blackburn Clinic left the question about ease of obtaining a home/other visit blank. This means they either didn’t know that our doctors can do home visits, or they had never needed to use the service.  128 out of the 146 who did respond rated this question as Good, Very Good or Excellent (that is 87% of respondents were happy). The situation was similar for Specialist Centre surveys.  On weekdays we do home visits for our patients in the local area if necessary.  For example, if you suspect you have a highly infectious disease (eg. measles) you could ask for a home visit.  Where possible we ask that you ring before 10:00am to arrange home visits. Sometimes demand for this service will exceed our ability to respond and you may be asked whether you would like a locum visit arranged.  Fees will be charged for all home visits.