The Wimmera Health Care Group has established a COVID-19 assessment clinic at its Horsham premises.
The facility is located at the south end of the Wyuna Sub-Acute Unit to fast-track assessments on Horsham residents. The clinic will be open every day including weekends.
WHCG director of Clinical Improvement, Risk and Innovation Sally Taylor said the number of people wanting to be tested was "minimal" as of Thursday.
"(However) they will continue to increase as confirmed cases become a reality in the region," she said.
"Establishing the assessment clinic now will ensure we are ready to support our community through this period of uncertainty. While there are still no confirmed cases in the region, it is only a matter of time before that changes."
Mrs Taylor said the clinic would initially be opened from noon to 6pm each day.
She said not everyone presenting at the clinic would be swabbed for coronavirus.
"The initial assessment will determine if people are at risk and need to be swabbed. Everyone needs to be aware that all health resources need to be dedicated to those most likely to have the virus," she said.
"For this reason there is also a criteria to meet the need for assessment."
Federal Department of Health criteria for assessment includes
- Anyone who has returned from overseas in the past 14 days and develops respiratory illness with or without fever
- Anyone who has been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days and develops respiratory illness with or without fever
- You have severe community-acquired pneumonia and there is no clear cause
- You are a healthcare worker who works directly with patients and has a respiratory illness and a fever
In a statement, the healthcare group said access to the respiratory assessment clinic would be strictly from Wyuna's rear entrance in Read Street to prevent potential coronavirus carriers entering the hospital confines.
A yellow line on the footpath will help direct people to the entrance.
Acting director of medical services Dr John Christie said the centre had an "adequate" number of testing kits.
"They are in short supply throughout Australia but we have not run out," he said.
"Someone may come to the testing centre because they have been in contact or overseas and developed body aches or a cough, so they would be tested and undergo a physical assessment. If their symptoms are mild they will sent home to stay in self-isolation rather than admitted to hospital."
Dr Christie said the centre would have three staff initially. He said residents needed to practice good hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
It follows the West Wimmera Health Service last week asking anyone that experiences COVID-19 symptoms not to visit one of their facilities, but rather call 5391 4222.
People can call the Wimmera Health Care Group on 5381 9111.
Chief executive Ritchie Dodds said Horsham was the "most appropriate" place for an assessment facility.
"To help them set that clinic up we are taking on up to 10 of their rehabilitation patients that were in that clinic at Nhill hospital, which has available beds," he said.
"We are working together to ensure service is provided.
"It's a rapidly evolving situation but we are having a flexible approach to it. We yesterday put all our aged care facilities into full lockdown mode: There will be no visitors until further notice unless there is a special reason such as end of life or palliative care.
We have suspended all contractors, visitors and anyone else coming other than managers and direct care staff."
Across Western Victoria, the state government has announced it will bring another 45 beds online at Bendigo Health and recommission Geelong's Baxter house to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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