Australia’s first regional Aboriginal-led COVID clinic opens in Toowoomba

Release Date: 
5 May 2020
Media release

Joint Media Release

The Hon Mark Coulton MP
Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government

The Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP
Minister for Indigenous Australians

Hon Dr John McVeigh MP
Federal Member for Groom

Australia’s first regional Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service-led GP respiratory clinic has opened today in Toowoomba to provide locals with culturally safe place to be tested and treated for COVID-19.

The clinic, at Carbal Medical Clinic, will also take pressure off local hospital emergency departments and other GP clinics within the Toowoomba area.

Federal Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton said the clinic is best placed to support people with a fever, a cough, a sore throat, and other respiratory symptoms and help to minimise the risk of infection in the communities.

“The respiratory clinic will enable members of the community with symptoms to receive the appropriate medical advice and get tested, without posing a risk to other patients in the clinic who may be seeing their GP for a non-COVID19 related reason,” Minister Coulton said.

“While the pandemic is not widespread in regional areas as yet, it’s important we have local doctors leading the local response and preparation for their communities.

“I want to assure regional Australians that our number one priority is protecting and supporting communities through COVID-19.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt said sadly, Indigenous Australians are more likely to suffer from a serious illness if they contract COVID-19. There are higher rates of chronic conditions and other health issues in regional communities and it can be hard to access health care.

This means that an outbreak of COVID-19 in an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community has the potential to be very serious. This testing program will help protect Indigenous Australians against the virus.

Federal Member for Groom, Dr John McVeigh said the opening of the region’s first respiratory clinic  was a very important step in the community’s ongoing fight against COVID-19.

“The Federal Government has been working with Carbal Medical Service, Darling Downs & West Moreton PHN, local GPs and Aspen Medical — which has significant health emergency management experience in Australia and overseas — to rollout the Toowoomba ACCHS clinic,” Dr McVeigh said.

To access the clinic GP respiratory clinic, patients can visit health.gov.au and use the online booking system or phone Carbal Medical Centre on 07 4639 7300.

The Federal Government has invested $206.7 million to establish around 100 respiratory clinics across Australia, including in rural and regional areas in each state and territory. Additionally, more than 200 fever clinics, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and State and Territory governments, are also in operation across Australia.

BACKGROUND:

  • People with severe symptoms should call 000 and/or attend the nearest hospital emergency department.
  • People with mild to moderate respiratory symptoms will need to make an appointment either online via booking links available at health.gov.au or over the phone if the clinic has made a local phone booking arrangement available.
  • It is important that people attend the clinic only at the time of their booking so that social distancing can be maintained, and they may be asked to wait in their car until the clinic is ready to receive them.
  • People will be assessed by a GP or a nurse under the supervision of a GP and have a specimen taken for pathology testing if that is indicated.
  • Regardless of whether a test is undertaken, the person will receive clinical advice on how to manage their symptoms and an initial follow-up phone call or text message with test results and to check on how they are going.
  • After people have visited the clinic, they will remain eligible to continue to consult their regular GP using the MBS telehealth items.