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How we are managing coughs, colds and winter ills at Medplus

June 28, 2021


You will have noticed that there are lots of coughs and colds, including RSV, in our community, unfortunately, and hospitals and medical centres are being inundated with demand for appointments.

The message from Ashley Bloomfield this week was;

"With winter well and truly here, we also need to be careful about how we deal with 'winter sniffles. Our advice, wherever you are, is that if you have cold and flu symptoms you should stay home and call Healthline"( or your GP) "and take their advice about getting a COVID-19 test as soon as possible."

Last week, just before the COVID case visited Wellington from Sydney, we had decided to soften our approach to streaming those with respiratory tract symptoms (red symptoms) from others (green patients).

The rationale for the change was that there had been no community cases for a very long time, our team is now immunised, and so far over 11% of our eligible population have had at least one Pfizer vaccination.

Obviously, at any time the situation may change, but over the coming weeks, if there is no community spread in NZ, we will decrease the use of our RED CABIN, and see more patients in the medical centre, with additional cautions in place. We must operate under a high trust system, and we are needing the cooperation of our patients when booking appointments to maintain a safe environment for all.

If you, or your escort, have any type of cough, cold, runny nose, sore throat, snuffles, with or without fevers, you are still categorised as a RED patient. You need to be booked via reception and our phone triage system (you may get a call back by a Nurse Prescriber who can help with advice over the phone, prescriptions of paracetamol, and helps make sure our book on the day appointments are used by those who need them most).

You may be seen in the RED cabin, but overflow will be seen in either of the medical centres. You do not need to check-in. Please wait in your car, or outside if you prefer, to ensure the safety of those in our waiting room. Your GP or Nurse Prescriber will start the consult off on the phone to minimise the time you spend in the centre, which reduces the spread of infection. You will then be asked to meet your clinician at the Ambulance Door at Medplus Lake Road, and the Front Door at Medplus Anne Street, and taken directly into a consult room for an examination if required. Mask wearing remains essential for those over 12 years. If you are just coming in to have a COVID swab we would prefer to do this outside, or in your car. The swab can trigger some sneezing and spluttering, increasing the risk of transmission therefore doing it outside remains the optimal solution for us. The doctor will have to clean down anything that a RED patient has touched inside before moving on to the next patient.

Because of all these additional steps, if you are a RED appointment, please note that we are going to be time-limited and likely only to have time to address your respiratory symptoms and not other things. We suggest you make an appointment when you are fully better for anything else that needs addressing. Currently, you will not be disadvantaged financially for this as we do not charge for RED appointments. If you happen to have RED symptoms but are coming about anything else a normal charge applies.

A complication arises if you have a close connection to a COVID case, or the Border, referred to as Higher Index of Suspicion criteria. If you meet any of the HIS criteria, we cannot bring you into the building if you have RED symptoms, regardless of your vaccination status. We would need to see you in the RED cabin.

Higher Index of Suspicion (HIS) criteria

People who meet the HIS criteria are those who have, in the 14 days prior to symptom onset:

TO SUMMARISE:

STAY AT HOME IF YOU HAVE ANY COLD OR COUGH SYMPTOMS AND CONTACT US.

WE CAN ARRANGE SWABS AND OR MEDICAL REVIEWS – BOOK VIA RECEPTION NOT ON THE PORTAL - ON 09 489 2011. YOU MAY BE PUT THROUGH THE PHONE TRIAGE PROCESS.

WE MAY SEE YOU IN THE RED CABIN, OR WITHIN THE MEDPLUS CONSULT ROOMS.

WHEN YOU COME TO MEDPLUS PLEASE WEAR A MASK

WAIT IN YOUR CAR – NOT IN THE WAITING ROOM.

YOUR CONSULT WILL START OFF OVER THE PHONE AND THEN YOU WILL BE COLLECTED AND TAKEN DIRECTLY TO THE CONSULT ROOM – BYPASSING THE WAITING AREA.

IF YOU HAVE ANY HIGHER INDEX OF SUSPICION CRITERIA (HIS) PLEASE INFORM US AT THE TIME OF BOOKING – YOU WILL NEED TO BE SEEN IN THE RED CABIN OR YOUR CAR.