March 10, 2020 14:31:37
A ‘drive-thru’ coronavirus testing clinic has opened in South Australia, in what is believed to be a first for the country’s public health system.
One patient will be seen every 20 minutes once the ‘drive-thru’ clinic is fully operationalPatients will be able to drive by the Repatriation Hospital in Adelaide’s south, wind their windows down and have test swabs takenThe SA Pathology director believes it is the first drive-thru station in Australia
The clinic is expected to receive a patient every 20 minutes once fully operational.
Patients in need of a test will require a referral from their GP before they can attend the drive-thru, which has been set up at the former Repatriation Hospital site in Adelaide’s inner southern suburbs.
SA Pathology’s clinical service director, Dr Tom Dodd, said the service had been designed as another way for health professionals to collect samples from those potentially affected by the virus, and was not meant to replace any clinical services.
“So this service is really specifically for patients who have already seen a GP and not for people to have a clinical assessment,” Dr Dodd said.
“This is a pathology collection point only at this stage and we will be making it very clear to GPs that they’ll need to see the patients first and then refer the patients onto here after they’ve organised a collection time, and provided us with a request form.”
Dr Dodd believed the testing station was “a national first … on a state [managed] basis”.
“We believe it will be very effective in supporting isolation and barriers for patients with … COVID-19,” he said.
“Patients will just literally be able to drive through this side of the Repat [hospital], wind their window down and the specimens will be collected directly out of the car window by SA Pathology nurses [who] will be wearing personal protective equipment.
“It presents no risk at all for anyone working on the site and will support isolation of those patients until the results of their tests are known.”
More drive-thru clinics could be set up around Adelaide if the southern clinic is successful.
The clinic will operate for between eight and nine hours each day from tomorrow, but Dr Dodd said those hours would be increased if demand grows.
Drive-thru testing clinics have already been operating overseas in South Korea, the United States and United Kingdom.
Dr Dodd said SA Pathology had completed 5,500 tests for coronavirus since January 31.
Premier puts US trip plan on hold
South Australia’s Premier Steven Marshall announced on Tuesday that he would delay a trip to the United States amid coronavirus concerns.
Mr Marshall said he still hoped to attend other engagements in the US as part of a “modified” itinerary next week.
“We are looking at whether there are some opportunities to change the dates and a modified program,” he said.
“It’s a very important trip for the people of South Australia, and I don’t want to buy into some of the scenarios that some leaders around the world are putting forward.
“This is a very serious disease, but we can’t shut up shop here in South Australia.
“I’ve got a responsibility also to the people of this state to make sure that we don’t pull a massive handbrake on our economy.”
Mr Marshall said he was working to finalise a state-based stimulus package to complement the Federal Government’s own plans.
“We’re putting the final touches on that,” he said.
“We are balancing these two imperatives at the moment — the health imperative, but also the employment and economic imperative, and we’ve got to get the balance of this right.
“We’ll have more to say about that in the coming days.”