Tue. May 17th, 2022

Those with mildly severe symptoms of coronavirus are visited by a nurse as well as telephone checks and monitored by a virtual hospital ward. When a person’s condition worsens, they are transferred to the hospital for more intensive care.

But Hume GP John Hodgson, who runs the Coolaroo Clinic in the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, said he only discovered patients had tested positive for the virus when they called his doctor several days later.

“We actually have no faith in that,” he said. “The reason people fall through the cracks is because there is no properly organized and safe kind of lineup.”

Doctor John Hodgson runs a breath and vaccine clinic in Coolaroo

Doctor John Hodgson runs a breath and vaccine clinic in CoolarooCredit:Joe Armao

In some cases, the clinic was only warned about coronavirus patients until one week after they had given a positive result.

“My concern is that there is a very high risk that there may be patients at home and unwell with the virus and we just do not know about them yet,” he said.

Dr. Hodgson said pathology labs should send patients’ positive coronavirus test results directly to their designated physician in real time.

Northern suburban GP Umber Rind is worried that people may get worse quickly before they realize how sick they are.

Of the more than 200 coronavirus patients at the New Leaf Medical Clinic, Dr. Rind that she has only been officially notified about 5 percent of them.

The other 95 percent were detected when the patient or a family member called the clinic to say they were infected or if they were exacerbated by the disease at home.

“If the family didn’t call us, we just wouldn’t know,” she said. “This is especially important when we know that a particular vulnerable patient has tested positive so that we can ensure that they receive the care they need. It is very dangerous not to know. ”

Similarly, Newport GP Sana Al-Rubaye said in recent weeks that several patients she was unaware of had coronavirus were rapidly deteriorating at home.

Most were non-English speaking or from a migrant background and had called the clinic breathless and worried, unsure if to call an ambulance. Some were so ill that they were later admitted to the hospital.

Dr. Al-Rubaye said that although she strongly supported a home care program to free up hospital capacity for the sick, it was an “unreliable system” because there was no clear communication system in place between the health department, health networks and GPs to immediately warn GPs , when their patients test positive.


Clinical and public health leader of the co-health COVID response Dr. Nicole Allard said there had been “tragic” deaths of people with coronavirus in north-west Melbourne, where people had died in their homes or had presented too late to an emergency department.

Dr. Allard said about once or twice a day that the staff at the assessment center called an ambulance for patients who were being assessed, and she was concerned that people were now waiting too long to be tested for the virus.

Co-health provides a central assessment center that connects thousands of coronavirus patients, largely in the western suburbs, with their physician and helps access payments and medications.

Of the 550 GPs in the West, 467 are subscribed to the pathways program, and some clinics currently support more than 100 COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Allard said that every person who comes through the pathways program is sent a text on day one that tells them, “If you are sick, call us, but we also proactively ask them to call their doctor.”

Last Thursday – when the number of cases increased from 950 to 1438 – co-health received 500 new referrals, bringing the number of patients in the Northwest Road to around 3,500.

Asked Friday whether the system was on or off capacity, Dr. Allard that they scale up and try to minimize the risk to patients by prioritizing the most vulnerable, including the elderly and people who are in the period when most become ill (after five days of symptoms).

Dr. Allard said there was a need for a public health campaign to warn Victorians about the dangers of coronavirus and when to seek help – as well as the successful thunderstorm asthma campaign.


She said the warning signs included extreme lethargy, struggling to cope with daily tasks, shortness of breath at minimal exertion, dehydration, inability to eat or drink, coughing up blood and confusion.

“It’s all the red flags,” she said.

Dr. Ines Rio, chair of the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network, said the home-based program “works really well, except that it is in capacity”.

She was also concerned about people without a regular doctor and their risk of falling through the cracks.

“We need a single 1800 number that can be used by GPs, paramedics and emergency departments to help and triage people,” she said.

In NSW, at least 29 people have died at home after being infected with coronavirus, more than half of which were not known to health authorities before an autopsy.

In September, a Melbourne man in his 20s died at his Craigieburn home after contracting the virus. An autopsy found that he was infected with coronavirus, but it is believed that the man had other serious health conditions.

Police outside a house on Henderson Street Northcote where a 49-year-old woman is believed to have died with Covid-19 in August.

Police outside a house on Henderson Street Northcote where a 49-year-old woman is believed to have died with Covid-19 in August. Credit:Nine

Another woman, who also lived in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, died at home on August 31 after contracting the virus. It is unclear whether her diagnosis was known before her death.

A spokesman for a Victorian health department said each person who tested positive for COVID-19 was invited to participate in the COVID Positive Pathways program.

“All staff committed to helping people with COVID-19 provide care as part of the COVID Positive Pathways program — either as part of community-based health care, GPs, or in our health services,” she said.

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