The Weston Creek Walk-in Centre will be expanded to include a telehealth service for patients who do not require hospital admission.
As Canberra’s initial focal point for testing of the COVID-19 virus, the telehealth service will allow people to speak with their doctor or healthcare worker via phone or video links in a bulk-billing arrangement to ease the pressure on the centre during the coronavirus pandemic.
The expansion of services at the Weston Creek Walk-in Centre is part of the ACT Government’s preparedness measures as it expects further increases in patients requiring care for COVID-19.
The government has set aside $23 million to build and operate a temporary COVID-19 Emergency Department as part of its $126 million boost to health services in response to the pandemic.
The Federal Government also fast-tracked the roll-out of telehealth services last week.
The telehealth consultation with a health care worker will determine what care they need and can include a physical assessment, reassurance and advice, an appointment with a GP or a referral to a service such as Hospital in the Home or community nursing.
Post-hospital support and follow-up for positive cases will also be available.
The Weston Creek Walk-in Centre is also Canberra’s dedicated respiratory assessment centre. People seeking treatment for minor injuries or other illness are requested to attend the walk-in centres at Tuggeranong, Belconnen or Gungahlin.
Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said the expansion of services at Weston Creek to include telehealth will ensure COVID-19 patients who are recovering at home get the care and support they need.
“The Weston Creek Walk-in Centre has been playing a vital role in our response to COVID-19,” the Minister said.
“This service will help to reduce the number of patients presenting at emergency departments or being admitted to hospital by providing expert medical support quickly and conveniently.”
The services will be provided by specialist nurses and GPs who will be supported by further specialists in infectious diseases and general medicine at Canberra Health Services.
Respiratory assessment centre GPs will liaise with the patient’s regular GP, if they have one, to ensure a smooth handover and appropriate sharing of relevant information.
Canberra Health Services has been working closely with Capital Health Network and Canberra Afterhours Locum Medical Service (CALMS) to identify suitable GPs to support this work.
“This is a great example of how the whole ACT health system is pulling together to deliver a patient-centred response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The ACT Government’s top priority is to respond to the spread of COVID-19 in our community, ensuring we are doing everything we can to protect the health of Canberrans and our healthcare workforce,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.