A dedicated respiratory clinic to assess people with mild to moderate coronavirus symptoms has opened in Spring Gully.
Located at 126 Spring Gully Road, the clinic is operated by St Anthony's Family Medical Practice.
Testing at the respiratory clinic will be done by appointment, with online booking preferred.
Testing will now be based only on clinical symptoms, irrespective of age or occupation.
These symptoms include any new fever, chills or breathing problems, specifically cough, sore throat or shortness of breath.
St Anthony's managing director Adel Asaid said the practice was pleased to be able to respond to the Federal Government's request for assistance.
"We are also working with Bendigo Health to ensure they can concentrate on the sickest people, and we can do what GPs do best, which is providing a service to the community," Dr Asaid said.
The Department of Health is funding GP respiratory clinics nationwide, with Ballarat and Mildura recently opening a dedicated respiratory clinic.
Bendigo Respiratory Clinic general practitioner Ed Griffin said patients assessments are completed on iPads, with clinical software completely separate to St Anthony's own clinical software.
The respiratory clinic will have no access to a patient's medical history and medication, so staff will rely on the patient providing that information, unless they are referred by their regular GP with a health summary.
On arrival for their appointment, patients will be triaged by a nurse.
Those with mild symptoms who meet the testing criteria will be swabbed for coronavirus.
Those who are moderately unwell will also be reviewed by a respiratory clinic GP.
Seriously unwell patients are advised to go directly to the Bendigo Hospital emergency department or call an ambulance.
Murray Primary Health Network identified a range of practices across central Victoria that had the capacity and interest in establishing a pop-up respiratory clinic.
Murray PHN chief executive Matt Jones said another two or three federally funded respiratory clinics were likely to be announced in the region in the coming days.
"While coronavirus infections are falling, we still have some way to go," Mr Jones said.
"People in our communities also need to ensure they are looking after other aspects of their health by continuing regular appointments with their GP and seeking medical help when they are unwell."
Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton says the government is working with local GPs to roll out the clinics.
"Rural and regional parts of the country deserve health care services of a comparable standard to that provided in our major metropolitan cities," Mr Coulton said.
Nationals' Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie welcomes the opening of the clinic.
"The respiratory clinic will help to reduce pressure on hospital emergency departments and other general practices," Ms McKenzie said.
The Bendigo Respiratory Clinic is located at 126 Spring Gully Road, Spring Gully.
The clinic is open Monday to Friday from 10am until 5pm by appointment only.
To register, visit bendigorespclinic.com.au or phone 1800 573 196
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