'Minimising the risk': new COVID-19 testing clinic opens in Young

Riverina MP Michael McCormack and Dr Asitha Wickramaratne at the new COVID-19 testing clinic at the Boorowa Street Medical Practice. Photo: Peter Guthrie
Riverina MP Michael McCormack and Dr Asitha Wickramaratne at the new COVID-19 testing clinic at the Boorowa Street Medical Practice. Photo: Peter Guthrie

Young GP Dr Asitha Wickramaratne is urging residents who are tested for COVID-19 to self-isolate until they receive their results.

A new GP-led COVID-19 testing clinic to assess people with mild to moderate respiratory symptoms opened on Monday at the Boorowa Street Medical Practice.

Dr Wickramaratne was joined by Deputy Prime Minister and federal member for Riverina Michael McCormack, Hilltops mayor Brian Ingram and Andrew Heap from the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network for the official opening on Monday morning.

The clinic has been assembled in the car park of the Boorowa Street Medical Practice. It will be open from 12.30pm until 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

Patients are encouraged to book online through website www.hotdoc.com.au.

Dr Wickramaratne explained how a consultation will take place.

"We're using the back entrance to keep the practice and clinic separate. Patients are asked to park on Calabash Street, make their way 50m and meet the reception where they are given a mask and handed over to a nurse for the initial assessment to see the doctor.

"The patients will initially be triaged by the nurse and handed over to the doctor who will assess the patient from a respiratory point of view. We are planning to swab every patient that comes through.

"We'll be seeing patients who have mild to moderate respiratory symptoms. This is cough, cold, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath, people feeling unwell."

Laverty Pathology will make two collections of swabs during the four hour testing period each day.

Within 48 hours patients should have their result.

A text message will be sent if the test is negative. Those who test positive to COVID-19 will be contacted and given a clear set of instructions.

Dr Wickramaratne stressed the importance of staying home while waiting for results.

"Until the results are out people have go into self-isolation for about 48 until the results are out. That's what I'm trying to get through to people. I don't want people swabbing and doing to do their shopping afterwards they just need to go home afterwards. You have to go home.

"The idea is to increase the amount of people we swab to help the community be safe moving forward from here.

"We are very grateful to the Australian government for helping us set up this clinic. We can have it separate to our regular practice where we can safely look after our vulnerable in the practice while minimising the risk of contamination to the COVID-19 clinic."

Anyone with severe symptoms should present to Young Hospital.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack reminded residents that Young is not immune to an outbreak of the virus.

"I thank Dr Asitha and his expert team here who are now providing this great facility. Young is not immune. None of these towns are immune to an outbreak. Whilst regional Australia has done very well as far as being able to contain COVID-19 it's not to say there couldn't be something happen down the track. We've done well so far. Clinics like this will make sure people with flu-like symptoms can come in and get checked out and have that peace of mind.

"The important message is we're trying to tell people is if they have got flu-like symptoms please come down and get it checked out. What we want to continue to do is to contain and minimise the spread of COVID-19. Yes it has had such an effect on our communities, such an effect on our economy. With the great help from Australians dowloading the COVIDsafe app, making sure they practice social distancing, making sure where and when possible they've stayed at home, and they've followed the chief medical officer professor Brendan Murphy's advice, and that's helped Australia be a world leader in containing and minimising not only the number of cases but also the mortality rate.

"It's so important to continue to be able do that, so important to continue to follow the expert advice. What we don't want to now see, having done all the hard work, is see a second wave, another outbreak. We've been able to lead the world as far as the health crisis is concerned. Yes it's had an effect on jobs and it's had an effect on the economy. We'll get through that. We're very resilient, particularly regional people are very resilient. Largely they've done what they've been asked and that's saved lives, and it's protected livelihoods."

Hilltops mayor Brian Ingram says the more people tested for COVID-19 the better.

"The set up of this arrangement is fantastic to give people easy access to get tested. What we're trying to encourage now is people if they have any symptoms at all is to step up and get tested. Things have been pretty well under control in the regional areas but we want to keep it that way," he said.

"The more testing we can have done, the sooner and better off everyone will be. We need to know if it's out there. We need to make sure we continue testing as much as we possibly can to eliminate any risk. If there is one [positive case] pop up, we have the tracing app which is fantastic as well. For regional areas these types of temporary set-ups to be tested for COVID-19 are a fantastic advantage and we thank the federal government very much for their help."

Patients from smaller towns surrounding Young, and across the region are able to book-in and use the clinic.

If you don't have a hotdoc account, you can call 63821599.

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