Published 24 Aug 2020
Staying healthy has never been more important. Recently, many people have understandably considered delaying timely healthcare - ignoring signs and symptoms rather than being proactive about their health.
Seeing your physio for that niggling neck pain, your dentist for your annual check-up or your optometrist for a vision test are all genuine reasons to leave your home and both physical and mental health are important elements of looking after yourself . Most Australians can still see their health providers as clinically required and up-to-date information from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) outlines any specific restrictions based on where you are.
Amanda Kammerer, optometrist and GMHBA Eye Care clinical manager, reassures us that it’s safe to attend for your regular eye health checks or even emergency appointments.
“Whether you’re working from home and starting to get headaches or are diabetic and need your regular eye health check, we strongly encourage existing and new patients to attend GHMBA Eye Care, or their local optometrist. We take hygiene and health seriously and follow or exceed all the recommendations. We even offer a telephone triage service, where we talk to our patients, find out what help they need and then recommend in-practice or even tele-optometry appointments. We are happy to home deliver your contact lenses or glasses too.”
Let’s look at how GMHBA Eye Care and other health services will be looking after your health during your visit.
What to expect at a check during COVID-19
Healthcare practices will have many procedures in place to maximise the health and safety for staff and patients.
These procedures will be based on advice from the Australian Department of Health, Optometry Australia and Australian Dental Association and will include cleaning guidelines, personal protective equipment and other infection prevention and control strategies.
To keep staff and patients safe and healthy, you should expect the following standards when you attend a healthcare appointment (subject to current DHHS restrictions):
- Call ahead to find out what new procedures your provider has in place
- All staff will be wearing masks and may have other personal protective equipment on such as a face shield, gloves or gown
- Staff will be temperature checked at the start of their shift
- All patients will be temperature checked upon arrival
- There may be screens in place or a physical barrier to protect/distance the staff
- There may be less appointments available or reduced appointment times to minimise patient crossover and allow time for cleaning
- High touch areas will be cleaned more often
- The treatment rooms and receptions areas may be set up differently to allow for social distancing
- Contactless payment might be the only payment option
- Know that if you do have COVID-19 or show signs or symptoms, you won’t be treated in the practice, but other arrangements may be able to be made (for example in your car or by telehealth)
At GMHBA Dental Care, Practice Operations Manager Debbie Whitehand reports they are applying all the above strategies and more in order to provide high quality dental services to our community during COVID.
“Our hygiene practices have always been exemplary, but COVID has added a new layer of precaution. Our team work hard to make sure our patients feel at ease when they come into our practice and have confidence in our hygiene and safety standards during this stressful time”
What you can do to stay COVID Safe during a check up
Knowing the practices are doing their best to maintain hygiene, there are a few things you can do to help:
- Please don’t attend your appointment if you’re unwell or COVID positive
- Answer honestly when asked about:
- any COVID symptoms
- contact with other COVID positive or suspect cases
- your postcode
- recent travel
- Wear a mask (unless exempt) and use hand sanitiser
- Follow the check in procedure: for example, recording your details in the visitor register, or you might be asked to call the practice when you arrive and to wait for your appointment in your car or outside the building
- Let your temperature be checked
- Where practical, don’t bring a family member or friend along to your appointment as they may be required to stay outside
- Consider having a telehealth appointment
Dina Dasic of GMHBA owned Geelong Physiotherapy, says their patients, new and existing, have been fantastic at applying the hygiene and health precautions, and even delving into telehealth.
“Our patients are confident that we are keeping the best interests of our community, patients and staff in mind with the changes we’ve put in place. It was astonishing how quickly they took up GMHBA’s telehealth options, and our new check in and treatment procedures have been working smoothly.”
Be healthier, and COVID safe together
Now more than ever, maintaining your health and continuing to access health services in the community, or via telehealth is important. Ensure you work with your provider and follow any specific instructions they have to keep everyone COVID safe.
Please note that advice is generic in nature and you must adhere to any additional restrictions based on your location.
Have your needs changed?
As life changes, so can our health needs. If it’s been a while since you checked your cover, you can log into the online member area to view your annual limits and check your fact sheet to confirm what you are covered for. If it’s time to make changes to your cover, you can contact GMHBA to review your cover.