21 September is World Alzheimer’s Day which launches us into Dementia action week from now until 27 September. Dementia Australia defines dementia as a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. It affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Brain function is affected enough to interfere with the person’s normal social or working life.
Almost half a million Australians have dementia, and close to 1.6 million Australians are involved in their care. Dementia is the second leading cause of death of Australians and the leading cause of death among Australian females. Alarmingly, it is anticipated that the number of people living with dementia will double in the next 25 years.
A diagnosis of dementia will change the life of the person with the disease and those around them. So what can we do? The first stop is to learn more about the disease, the way it affects people and how those living with dementia can continue to lead normal, active lives for many years after diagnosis. Second is to get support, both people living with dementia and their carers have extensive support systems they can turn to whenever they may need.
This year, National Stroke Week is perhaps more critical than ever. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, there have been fewer people calling triple zero (000) and going to the hospital at the first sign of a stroke.
You could save the life of a loved one, a colleague, a stranger or even yourself by learning to recognise what to look out for and acting at first signs of a stroke. Knowing the F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech and Time) acronym can save lives. So this week, let’s recognise the importance of thinking F.A.S.T and encourage others to become more aware of stroke, understand their risk and what they can do to prevent a stroke.
In an emergency dial 000. To discuss ways you can reduce your risk of stroke, make an appointment with us today.
Managing patients with diabetes during a health crisis requires patience, understanding and quality information.
It’s strange times for all at the moment! And while it’s unclear if those living with diabetes have a greater chance of catching COVID-19, it is known that if they do contract the virus, they are at a heightened risk of having severe illness and needing hospital care. Diabetes Australia reports that people with diabetes represent 7% of diagnosed cases of COVID, 17% of hospitalised cases, 24% of ICU stays, and 25% of deaths.
At Qualitas Health, we have been working with our patients to recommend pathways forward that consider their individual needs and concerns. We recommend patients remain vigilant at all times to protect themselves and others by maintaining good hygiene practices, socially distancing, avoiding others who are sick and large public gatherings. But we are also working tirelessly to emphasise the importance of continuing any care regime with their GP. It’s also about encouraging patients uptake services to allow them to continue their care, such as Telehealth consults for those who do not feel up to visiting their practice. Our aim is to ensure the physical and mental health of all our patients’ can benefit from the support available.
HOW as health professionals do we encourage patients to put their general health in a balanced perspective with COVID-19 fears, lockdown and ongoing media hype.
At Qualitas Health, our latest campaign has simple messaging to remind the community that Victoria’s stage four guidelines are in place to keep people healthy and enable them to continue a health maintenance regimen with their doctor. After all, COVID isn’t our only health concern.
Patient absenteeism in Victoria is leading to an increase in the number of deaths from cancer and other serious illnesses. The Australian Financial Review reported yesterday that its patients’ fear of COVID-19 and Melbourne’s lockdown that’s the cause of many skipping health appointments, making health professionals unable to diagnose diseases such as cancer, stroke and heart disease early. Cancer Council Victoria saw a 28% decline in pathology notifications of cancer reported in the first wave (120 people per day) and commented on how the recent stage four lockdown is showing a similar drop. When patients are finally presenting, it is said to be with more advanced stages of cancer, making it harder or not possible to treat.
As of 29 July, there have been 15,582 cases of COVID in Australia and a most upsetting toll of 176 deaths. The Australian Department of Health has just released its COVID-at-a-glance infographic, and it tells a clear picture of the impact of the pandemic on Australians factually – without any of the emotion of course.
2020 and this pandemic hurts and everything is different. All businesses are experiencing some form of impact, and individuals/families feel the effects in other ways. Across our 31 medical practices in QLD, NSW and VIC we’ve noticed a change in patient numbers and behaviour. But we’re also seeing resilience, kindness and, most importantly, the ability for people and businesses to adapt. It’s incredible what can be achieved with a positive outlook and community support. With the daily number of reported cases now surpassing that of the first wave – let’s continue supporting one another, local business and members of the community, in the hope it can get us through another tough round on the health system, societal well-being, and the economy. Stay well; we are #inthistogether
ANZAC Day, April 25, is an important day for all of us fortunate enough to call Australia home. It is a day that we as a nation express our gratitude to the servicemen and women who served our country in war and peacekeeping.
While COVID-19 has transformed the way we will commemorate the day, it won’t stop us from paying tribute to those who deserve our recognition.
This Saturday, at 6.00 am, our people will join our fellow Australians, as we stand at the end of our driveways or on our balconies in remembrance of the service and sacrifice. For it is they who made this “the lucky country.” Our practices opening hours will vary, please check the website for details.
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.”