As Gloucester says farewell to a couple of doctors, Gloucester MediCo urges residents to be patient, maintain COVID-safe practices and if unwell, isolate and get tested.
Dr Vibisha Suntharamurthy left the medical centre a couple of weeks ago, and recently, her husband, Dr Sen Balasingam has followed. According to practice principal Dr Michele Hogg, although the couple enjoyed their time in Gloucester, they're moving to Sydney to pursue educational opportunities for Dr Suntharamurthy's career.
Dr Hogg said Gloucester MediCo has been able to recruit new doctors but unfortunately there will be a lean period and by November doctor numbers are expected to be back to near normal.
"We anticipate that appointments will be hard to come by for the next month or so, and ask the community to be patient," Dr Michele Hogg explained. "It is an especially difficult time as we try to manage the unpredictable requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic."
As the doctors are providing COVID testing so people don't need to travel to larger centres, the variable number of patients make planning appointments challenging. There is a dedicated Infectious Disease Consulting Room at the centre, situated in the recently constructed building. Although it's not the intended purpose for the room, the space is helping to ensure patient and staff safety.
Dr Hogg is stressing the risk of COVID to the community.
"On Thursday (July 23), NSW Health upgraded us to Amber Alert. This means that patients visiting health providers will be asked to wear a mask or face covering to their consultation," Dr Hogg said. "Health providers will be wearing masks with all patients, whether or not they have any respiratory symptoms. This reflects the serious danger we are facing."
Medical centre staff are asking everyone to heed the advice from government and health authorities - Don't touch your face. Wash your hands frequently. Get tested and stay isolated immediately if you develop any symptoms, no matter how mild. Keep 1.5 metres from others, and avoid unnecessary travel or group functions. If you can't keep your distance, consider wearing a mask or other face covering.
As the situation develops, it remains important to seek medical care if you are unwell. Gloucester MediCo is able to offer consultations via Telehealth and/or telephone.
"If you need to see us in person, be reassured that every measure is being taken to keep infections out of our waiting room, and it should be as safe an environment as you can find outside of your own home," Dr Hogg said. "If you need to go to the hospital, please telephone ahead so they can advise you of their procedures."