The new Latrobe Valley respiratory assessment clinic will open in Morwell today.
The Latrobe Respiratory Clinic will be operated by the Health Care Centre Morwell at 187-189 Princes Drive, Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm and Saturdays from 9am-noon.
It will be staffed from Monday to Friday by Health Care professionals with training in taking COVID-19 samples who will be supported by receptionists, cleaners and other support staff.
Gippsland Primary Health Network (PHN) has been working closely with general practices across the region to establish the clinics at the six sites in Warragul, Sale, Wonthaggi, Foster, Morwell and Bairnsdale.
The Australian Department of Health (DoH) has funded 100 private practice respiratory clinics across Australia to provide dedicated services to people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms, in addition to services available within public hospitals and general practices.
Gippsland PHN chief executive officer Amanda Proposch said the intent of the assessment clinics was to provide assessment and care of patients presenting with mild to moderate respiratory symptoms with referral to another health facility or home isolation if required.
She said the clinics would reduce pressure on public hospitals and primary health providers, while also reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 across the whole community.
"Respiratory clinics will reduce the risk of further transmission of COVID-19, help to optimise the use of available stocks of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and help reduce the pressure on hospital emergency departments," Ms Proposch said.
"The clinics will be established in dedicated premises which meet clear criteria, with arrangements to safely manage infection control. They will complement efforts of state and territory clinics at public hospitals.
"They will be staffed by existing general practice doctors and nurses and will be funded to assess, test and diagnose respiratory cases, including COVID-19, influenza and pneumonia."
Latrobe Respiratory Clinic manager Teddy Apostol said the building was accredited as safe and properly isolated from normal appointments and staff have completed their training.
"Aspen Medical, an Australian-owned global company has been appointed by DoH to deliver extra training in infection control and prevention to our staff and the clinic has undergone a comprehensive infection control audit," Mr Apostol said.
"Aspen Medical is working with all the respiratory clinics across the region to support with the setup, quality and safety and infection control."
Those seeking to be tested must register for an appointment on a special online booking link through HotDoc or phone 5191 9321 to make an appointment.
Entrance to the respiratory clinic is via the left side of the building in the parking lot, which is isolated from the main entrance (follow the directions).
If access to electronic registering is difficult, you will be assisted at the clinic.
After testing, which will only take about 15 minutes, people will be notified one time only by SMS or by phone as to the results. If necessary, they should then follow-up with their own general practitioner.