We want to thank our doctors, nurses and practice staff! In recent weeks, they have stepped forward and shown us commitment and courage in a time of change and uncertainty. As the world looks on, aghast as the pandemic tightens its grip on humanity, it is on these professions we hold our breath. In all their education, degrees and qualifications, they were not taught to be soldiers. Yet the expectation is unspoken, that they can manage their feelings of trepidation as each day they enter in the fight to help others.
Since COVID-19 hit Australian soil, like many in the industry, our team has worked their days with minimal potentially inadequate supplies. As a Group, we have resolved this industry-wide issue for now and will continue to work with our valued suppliers and government for stock. We have also transformed dramatically to protect both our healthcare team and our patients. We’ve introduced Telehealth consultations, so patients can access GP’s from home. We’ve installed hygiene stations and social distancing measures on-site, and are rolling out safety screens for reception teams. Healthcare has also redefined itself in the matrix of the outbreak and our entire team adapted swiftly, proving in a time of need to be both versatile and accommodating.
While it is still early in the fight, we wanted to take a moment to say we are truly grateful to have each of our doctors, nurses and practice staff members by our side. Your services to our patients and community are invaluable.
Each year the Department of Health spruiks the Influenza Immunisation message, urging people to get their flu jab. But is it essential? Here’s why we think it is:
For all persons aged six months and older, having an annual flu vaccination will reduce their chances of becoming ill with influenza (unless contraindicated). Having the Flu Vaccine is considered by health experts to be beneficial amidst the COVID-19 global outbreak. While at this stage, there is no vaccine publicly available for COVID-19, we look at why the Flu shot is considered an important weapon in fighting the outbreak.
Will the Flu Vaccine protect me against COVID-19?
COVID-19 is not a form of influenza, so the flu vaccine is not designed to protect against it. However, both COVID-19 and influenza affect the respiratory system and can lead to pneumonia. So if you were to have both viruses at the same time, that has the potential to be a significant attack on the lungs. Alarmingly, COVID-19 has ten times the mortality rate of Flu; so this is a fight you want to go into armed and healthy!
When is the Flu Vaccine available in 2020?
National Immunisation Program (NIP) vaccines are available and in Qualitas Health general practices now.
Vaccinating from April provides protection before the peak season takes place. While protection is generally expected to last for the whole season, the best protection against influenza occurs within the first 3 to 4 months following vaccination. It is recommended to time your vaccination ahead of the peak flu season, this is usually June to September in Australia.
To meet the anticipated demand for seasonal influenza vaccines in 2020, the Australian Government will be securing the largest ever supply of seasonal influenza vaccines. These are provided through the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for people most at risk.
What’s new with the 2020 Flu Vaccine
All people aged 6 months to less than 5 years will now be eligible for free influenza vaccines under the NIP in 2020.
This year Australia is the first country to offer an adjuvanted Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (QIV) – Fluad® Quad. This is available for people aged 65 years and over.
New age-specific vaccines will be available under the NIP in 2020 for eligible people. Age indications for some vaccines have changed.
For more information on the administration of seasonal influenza vaccines in 2020, refer to the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s Statement. This includes up-to-date clinical advice on the age-specific QIVs available under the NIP, strains included in 2020 vaccines, timing of vaccination, and other relevant topics.
Eligibility for influenza vaccines through the NIP
In 2020, influenza vaccines funded through the NIP are available to the following groups. This is due to their increased risk of complications from influenza.
All people aged 6 months to less than 5 years (this cohort is newly eligible in 2020)
All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
Pregnant women (during any stage of pregnancy)
All people aged 65 years and over
People aged 6 months and over with medical conditions which increase the risk of influenza disease complications.
Qualitas Health general practice is now providing our GP consultations via telephone, across our 31 locations in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. Even more great news is that all telehealth appointments will be bulk-billed for Medicare cardholders.
We are #inthistogether and feel the shift to telehealth consultations enables us to provide high-quality healthcare to our patients in the safety of their homes. The move has come about following the recent announcement from the Australian Government to extend MBS as part of the National Health Plan and response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Our practices have had to evolve quickly to accommodate these changes and to ensure operations continue with minimal disturbances to patients. We have always been proud of how agile we are as a business. Yet in recent weeks, we have been humbled by the flexibility and professionalism our doctors, nurses, practice staff and suppliers have demonstrated in implementing the changes. We have truly transformed how health services can be delivered on the front line in a matter of weeks, and for that, we say thank you, we couldn’t have done it without all of you.
Our practices are still OPEN for face to face appointments if necessary. However, we request you to book a telehealth appointment initially.
Telehealth bookings can be made online via HotDoc or by calling the practice.
Qualitas Health has 31 medical centres across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland who are moving their General Practitioner consultations to be conducted over the phone.
Managing Director Prashant Menon states “Our GP’s, nurses and practice staff are on the front line and to continue to provide our services in a safe environment for both our teams and patients we are moving all GP consults be carried out over the phone.”
“We hear the message about social distancing and we are evolving quickly to accommodate the changing needs and environments of our Patients.”
“It may become increasingly undesirable for patients to leave their homes for basic medical needs.”
“I believe that phone consultations will ease much anxiety for many. It enables GP’s to triage over the phone, only seeing patients at the practice where there is a clinical need and it is safe to do so.”
The Federal Government has included GP’s in the criteria for Telehealth consults to be bulk billed in a recent move, working in conjunction with advocates for the development, RACGP.
“We encourage all patients wanting to make a booking to call our practices, and we are providing phone consults to all needing to speak to a GP, those who are Medicare-eligible and private.”
Less than two months have passed since Australia’s horrifying bushfire season, which saw both great heroism and patriotism as we stood together and battled our way through a national emergency. For months we choked in the smoke of the fires, feeling helpless as we watched our country burn. It seems only a few moments have passed of which to catch a breath, and we no longer stand together in the fight for our lives, but rather in the unfamiliar form of warfare through isolation.
In these uncertain times amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, authorities doing the best they can with the limited information as it becomes available, advise a new paradigm for the identity of Australians. This includes social distancing, prohibiting the customary handshake and closing public areas for social expression, including pubs, restaurants, cafes, gyms and spiritual houses. Those flaunting non-compliance forcing more salt in the wounds, provoking the closure of some of our most iconic beaches. As we quickly drift towards a crashing wave of pandemic proportions.
Mass hysteria has led to understocked supermarkets (and outhouses for that matter) and the fundamental ritual of sanitising or sudsing up hands is now enjoyed after all occasions keeping you busy for seemingly hours each day (if you are lucky enough to have a supply of soap that is). But to top it all off, the all Australian saying of “She’ll be right mate!” is no longer the socially acceptable way to handle feeling under the weather, you’re expected to crawl under a rock for two weeks and hope there is still a good (healthy) Samaritan or UberEATS driver around to drop in vital supplies.
So how do you know if the symptoms you’re feeling are indications of Coronavirus, the Flu or if it’s the everyday run of the mill cold?
We think this infographic put together by the Department of Health (and adapted by us) is a great way to differentiate between the symptoms of each and may save an unnecessary trip to the closest COVID-19 clinic.
We hope this information provides some understanding of how the virus’ presents and we’re just a phone call away to provide you with a suitable course of action in these times of uncertainty. If you’re feeling unwell or unsure if your symptoms could be the sign of something more serious, please contact your local Qualitas Health general practice to book a consult with one of our GP’s.
Managing Director of Qualitas Healthcare Australia, Prashant Menon today announced – “All Qualitas Health General Practice sites are open, supporting the health of the community in the face of this growing pandemic.
Mr. Menon states, “The health of our patients and our staff is our utmost priority. Our experienced team of General Practitioners, Nurses, and Clinical Support Staff are working tirelessly across our 31 sites to meet the increasing demands brought about by Coronavirus.
“We will continue to operate our sites to a high standard, increasing hygiene measures in accordance with the Department of Health guidelines. We are taking strict measures to protect and minimise the risk of an unexpected transmission to a patient whilst in our practice. However, there may be the possibility with stringent controls in place in the interest of safety, patients and referrers may experience increased throughput times and slight delays in results.
“We have introduced Tele-health services and phone consultations at many of our practices to continue providing high-level healthcare to our community. Some practices may provide telephone only consults, others may be able to provide full telehealth services, and others may not be able to provide any assistance via this method at all for the time being. It is recommended that patients contact the practice directly to determine the availability of their GP to do phone consults.
“Now is a time where we all must remain vigilant and stay informed of developments as they evolve. The practice of social distancing and personal hygiene is something we can all do to help protect the health of those around us. All our practices display clear signage at the front windows, indicating that patients who meet the clinical and epidemiological criteria for COVID-19 refrain from entering the practice.”
Patients making an online appointment with us with HotDoc are instructed to call the practice if they have any of the COVID-19 criteria and are unable to make an online booking.
When a patient calls the practice, our staff will ask pertinent screening questions to patients before confirming any booking.
Patients that are either a confirmed case or meet the clinical and epidemiological criteria for COVID-19 and are a suspect case will be redirected to the appropriate public health testing facility from our practice.
Whether you’re considering circumcision for your child, yourself or significant other, we’re here to help you make an informed decision.
While there may be many different opinions about whether parents should circumcise their child, what the majority of most Australians don’t realise is that circumcision is still commonplace in Australia with thousands of newborn babies, young children and men circumcised every year for one of 3 reasons:
Religious or cultural.
Hygiene and appearance.
For health reasons.
Understand the benefits, risks and keys to post-procedure care and learn more about what to expect, by booking a consultation with one of our experienced general practitioners near you in New South Wales, Victoria or Queensland.
Our experienced doctors at Qualitas Health appreciate that discussion around vasectomies may cause high levels of stress and anxiety for some men, so here are a few simple facts that we hope will set you and your partner’s mind at ease:
A vasectomy is a safe, simple and permanent contraception procedure for men, when couples decide they have finished adding to their families or that they don’t wish to have children.
It doesn’t impact on sexual satisfaction or virility – the relieving news for men is that sexual function continues as normal for them following a vasectomy procedure.
What is done as part of a vasectomy? – this simple surgical procedure closes off the vas deferens (the tubes that carry sperm in the scrotum) and this prevents sperm from being in seminal fluid upon ejaculation.
How effective are vasectomies? They have a failure rate of less than 0.1% which makes them much more effective than other methods of contraception and contraception for women, such as IUDs (intrauterine devices) and female sterilisation (tubal ligation).
Is a vasectomy painful? No. During the procedure you will feel a slight pinprick from the needle and then the surrounding area will be numb. Afterwards, you can expect to have a small scar on the scrotum and potentially some slight discomfort for a day or two, but it won’t be overly painful.
Can sperm be stored for later? It is possible, however we highly recommend that you only undertake a vasectomy when you are looking at a permanent form of contraception, as while vasectomies can be reversed, there are no guarantees.
How safe are vasectomies? Vasectomies are very common procedures. There are always some risks, including infection and swelling, which is why it is important to consult with your doctor to discuss before and after care instructions. Our Qualitas Health team are of course always on hand to discuss any questions, concerns or needs that you might have pre or post-surgery.
Is it possible to reverse a vasectomy? Should you change your mind later, for whatever reason, it is possible to reverse a vasectomy. However, it is important to understand that there are no guarantees and that you should always consult your GP for more detailed information and with any concerns you may have prior to undertaking the procedure.
The procedure – generally the procedure takes less than 30 minutes and the majority of vasectomies are completed under local anaesthetic.
Medicare rebate – a referral is not required to get a vasectomy when performed by your experienced General Practitioner. If you have a medicare card, some of the cost will be covered for the procedure.
If you’d like to understand more about the benefits, risks and keys to post-procedure care for a vasectomy, reach out to our Qualitas Health team to find an experienced general practitioner near you in New South Wales, Victoria or Queensland.
Summer is here! For many of us, the change in season drives change in how we live our lives; time spent outdoors, ways we socialise with family and friends, the foods we eat and often increasing activity levels in the warmer months.
The warmer weather and change in conditions can also make our bodies more susceptible to different health issues and there are a few key tips that we can all employ as part of our everyday routine to keep ourselves and our families happy, safe and healthy this summer.
1. Stay cool & hydrated.
Sip water frequently throughout the day, be mindful of when you are feeling thirsty.
Take a water bottle with you on day trips and holidays.
Do your best to limit, or better still avoid, sugar-filled drinks, alcohol and tea/coffee, which can make you even more dehydrated.
Plan ahead to stay cool.
Keep your house cool by closing windows in the day, drawing curtains/blinds. Get fresh air into the home by opening windows at night when its cooler
2. Summer foods & fun.
Eat seasonal local produce, salads and smaller, lighter meals – fruit and vegetables that are grown, picked and eaten fresh will have higher levels of vitamins and minerals.
Make family eating interesting, fun and healthy – create easy-to-make healthy & delicious treats for the family such as crisp cold watermelon straight from the fridge, juice ice-blocks or crisp frozen grapes from the freezer.
3. Stay sun smart.
Slip on a long-sleeved shirt.
Slop on the SPF50+ sunscreen.
Slap on a wide-brimmed hat.
Seek shade – endeavour to stay out of the sun between 10am – 3pm, when UV Index levels are at their peak.
Slide on a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Skin checks – make a habit of getting your skin checked at least once a year.
4. Travel & health.
Bushfires and air quality – consider air quality before heading outside during the summer months. Suburban areas nowhere near bushfires can also experience poor air quality caused by smoke and ash in the air.
Vaccinations – if you’re heading overseas this summer, then please ensure you make an appointment with us to ensure that all of your vaccinations are up-to-date.
5. Fuel your body & mind
Stay active – plan your days to include atleast 30mins of brisk exercise. This could be in the form of a morning walk/run or swim.
Again, practice mindfulness and be open to new ways to calm a busy mind, this can be achieved through meditation, pilates or yoga.
Immerse yourself in nature.
These are just some of the simple steps that you can take to protect you and your loved one’s health this summer.
Stay safe and wishing you a Happy Holiday Season from our Qualitas Health family to yours.