COVID-19 Practice Information

Changes to our practice: Effective March 16, 2020

Last Update: 21st April 2020

What is happening with endoscopic procedures in the current climate?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a decision after today’s National Cabinet meeting that restrictions on category 2 and some category 3 procedures/surgeries will be lifted after the Anzac Day weekend.

It will still be extremely important for hospitals to maintain strict social distancing protocols and increased sanitisation procedures. Therefore it is unlikely that endoscopy units will reopen at full capacity initially. However, it is very likely that we will be able to rebook postponed procedures and accommodate new procedures in a timely manner in the near future.

We will keep you informed as more information becomes available.

Prior to today, the government mandated that only emergency and urgent (Category 1) procedures would be performed within this period of time to protect patients and staff.

Examples of emergency and urgent endoscopy procedures include but are not limited to:

  • evidence of bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract
  • new onset iron deficiency anaemia
  • positive faecal occult blood test (from bowel cancer screening)
  • suspected blockage of the upper or lower gastrointestinal tract
  • assessing inflammatory bowel disease where management is likely to be altered
  • endoscopic therapy for malignant/premalignant lesions
  • therapy for biliary blockage or infection
  • diagnosing, staging and biopsy for gastrointestinal cancer or pancreatic cancer

Our endoscopy units are strictly adhering to current guidelines on patient flow management and personal protective equipment to minimise risks of disease transmission.

Please make an appointment for a consultation to discuss your symptoms or any concerns as you may or may not require further investigation(s).

For patients requiring regular surveillance procedures, we are able to consult during this time and prepare paperwork for the time when all general procedures return to usual. This way you may avoid the anticipated rush at that point in time.

What is NSG doing to protect our patients, staff and the broader community?

Due to the high transmission rate and the fact that many of our patients fall into an ‘at risk’ population for more severe illness (over 70, diabetes, chronic lung disease, kidney failure, immunosuppressed, heart disease, hypertension), we at NSG have decided to be proactive rather than reactive and are making the following changes to our practice:

  • As of 16th March we are implementing the recommended ‘social distancing’ measures (see below)
  • Increased clinic sanitising schedule

Social Distancing Measures

1. Offering telehealth/telephone consultations where appropriate, except in cases where face-to-face contact is deemed medically important.

Who will be offered a telephone or telehealth consult?

  • For those with pre-existing bookings, your doctor will flag you as suitable for telephone or telehealth consultation and one of our administration staff will be in contact to set up the consultation.
  • For new patients, please send in your referral letter which will allow the doctor to determine if you are suitable for telephone or telehealth consultation. This can be done by fax (02) 8209 4856 or email admin@nsgastro.com.au.
  • If you have not been offered a telehealth or telephone consultation but would prefer one, please call (02) 8921 9188 to discuss with our administrative staff whether you may be suitable.

Are Medicare rebates available for telephone and telehealth consults?

  • As of 6th April 2020 a Medicare rebate is available for telephone/telehealth consultations. There will still be an out of pocket cost. For some patients (e.g. pensioners) the telephone/telehealth consultation may be bulk billed.
  • If you attend for a face-to-face visit, you will be eligible for a rebate as usual if you have a valid referral.
  • You will be informed of the costs of the consultation at the time of booking. Please do not hesitate to ask our staff if you have any questions.

How do I set up my telephone or telehealth consultation?

Prior to your consultation you will be sent detailed instructions about your
telephone or telehealth consultation.

2. For all clinic visits

  • Please do not visit if you have the following symptoms: fever, dry cough, fatigue, productive cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches and pains, sore throat.
  • If you have these symptoms and have been in contact with someone who has travelled in the preceding 14 days or someone known to have COVID-19, please obtain clearance from your GP, or a COVID-19 clinic PRIOR to your appointment.
  • Please do not visit if you have travelled overseas to any country in the
    preceding 14 days. Please call (02) 8921 9188 to reschedule.
  • No more than one support person per patient to avoid waiting room crowding.
  • Use hand sanitiser provided at the front desk, waiting room and consultation rooms.
  • We have a no handshaking policy.
  • Please cough or sneeze into your elbow, but ideally postpone your
    appointment if coughing or sneezing.
  • Please note that if you have misled us regarding your symptoms, exposure or travel, we have the right to refuse you service in the future. The safety of our patients and staff is of paramount importance to us.

Prior to your consultation, please ensure that you have returned all the documentation requested when you made your booking with us, in particular the COVID-19 screening form.

3. If your doctor is in self-isolation you will be offered one of three options:

  • A telephone or telehealth consultation with that doctor
  • The chance to defer your appointment
  • The chance to see another practitioner at Northern Suburbs Gastroenterology.

This will be discussed prior to your consultation.

PLEASE NOTE: As this is an evolving situation these policies are subject to change without notice.

Committed to the provision of quality and personalised subspecialty care.

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