COVID-19 Primary Care Update 29/07/2022

29 July 2022

Good evening,

It has been a busy week within SA Health expanding community services with the increasing COVID cases in the community. As we navigate the COVID landscape without an Emergency Management declaration, SA Health has devised a new governance structure. I’ve taken on the role of Community COVID Response Commander, working closing with Acute COVID Response Commander Professor Lesley Dwyer.

It’s pleasing to see a decrease in our case numbers today, however, we expect to see fluctuations over the coming weeks. Thank you for reminding your patients to seek testing and also encouraging mask usage in addition to mandated high-risk settings. A reminder our COVID high-risk team and clinician advice line, led by Dr Jenni Goold, is available to support you.

Expansion of In-home Visiting Services Adelaide

PHN in partnership with Wellbeing SA are pleased to announce the expansion of the in-home visiting service to now include people with non-COVID Respiratory related health conditions. The program will continue to include in-home visiting services relating to non-COVID-19 related health conditions that require care, while a COVID-19 positive person is isolating, to avoid unnecessary escalation to hospital. Service types include:

  • Wound Management
  • Medication Management
  • Paediatric respiratory assessment
  • Continence Management
  • Interpreting.

Referrals can be made to the Metropolitan Referral Unit by either phoning 1300 110 600 or fax to 1300 546 104. Clinical Templates can be found in Adelaide PHN's Adelaide PHN's Resource Library by searching ‘in home COVID’.  

Free flu vaccine program extended to 31 August 2022

More than 850,000 South Australians have had a flu vaccination in 2022. We thank GPs and pharmacists for their support in administering these vaccines. With almost 10,000 cases having been reported this year, the South Australian Government has extended the free flu vaccine program for another month. Until 31 August 2022, all South Australians over 6 months of age can have access a free influenza vaccine via a subsidy scheme for GPs, pharmacies and council clinics.  

GP Respiratory Centre at Kilkenny

SA Health has opened a new GP Respiratory Centre at Kilkenny to treat patients for mild to moderate respiratory symptoms such as COVID and flu with, and to ease pressure on South Australia’s busy emergency departments. The new GP respiratory centre at Kilkenny is located at 14 Regency Road, Kilkenny and is open 7 days a week by appointment. For more information, please visit the SA Health website.  

Oral Antiviral Treatment Plan for South Australian Aged Care Residents

The Clinical Care Plan (COVID and Influenza) for residents of South Australian aged care facilities template has recently been updated and renamed the Oral Antiviral Treatment Plan for South Australian Aged Care Residents which is attached in this update. Key changes to the template are a focus on oral antiviral treatment with updated PBS eligibility criteria integrated. The National Prescribing Service has produced an updated and very useful resource COVID 19 oral antiviral medicines in residential aged care.

Early treatment of COVID-19 or influenza with antiviral medication can reduce disease severity. General Practitioners and Residential Aged Care Facility staff are encouraged to discuss with all residents, or their substitute decision makers, their wishes and consent for oral antiviral treatment (including wishes for prophylaxis in the influenza outbreak setting), should they become infected with COVID-19 or influenza in the future.

The Oral Antiviral Treatment Plan (COVID and Influenza) for Residents of South Australian Aged Care Facilities template may be used to guide these discussions and document treatment eligibility and consent ahead of time, to facilitate timely access to treatment in the event of infection or outbreak.  

Routine immunisations post COVID-19 infection

Please be aware that patients who have recently recovered from COVID-19 and are feeling well and have no symptoms or only minor symptoms, can safely receive non-COVID-19 vaccines, including influenza vaccine, without any minimum interval. The ATAGI advice provided regarding recommendations for a 3-month interval after a COVID-19 infection only relates to receiving a COVID vaccine. For vaccination frequently asked questions, please see the NCIRS website.

Housing SA emergency housing assistance  

Housing SA provides financial assistance of up to 3 nights within hotels or motels for people who need emergency accommodation, including active COVID-19-positive patients who are unable to safely isolate in their home. Assistance is of a temporary or bridging nature and is for the rental component only, and not for any other charges that may apply. Homeless Connect SA is available 24 hours, 7 days on 1800 003 308, if your patient needs emergency housing assistance. Information about eligibility for assistance can be found on the SA Housing website.  

Transportation for COVID-19 patients

Please be aware that if people who have COVID-19 and require transportation to physical medical appointments, but do not have access to a vehicle, both taxi and ride share companies have expressed that they are able to assist. Rules surrounding requirements for passengers may differ between providers, and it is advised that individuals check with the provider when booking their transport. Advice on the SA Health website includes sitting in the back seat, window open and wearing a mask.  

COVID-19 winter (fourth) vaccination in over 65’s

A reminder that ATAGI has updated its recommendations for a winter (fourth) dose of COVID-19 vaccine to increase vaccine protection for selected population groups at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19 who have completed their primary course and received a booster dose. A fourth dose is highly likely to reduce the number of avoidable hospitals admissions and ensure a better health outcome for South Australians.

The number of persons aged 65 years and older that have taken up the fourth dose this winter season has been lower than expected with only 62% of this cohort getting their fourth dose. GPs play a key role in delivering the COVID-19 winter dose to people in residential aged care facilities as they offer greater flexibility in the delivery of vaccines and can support the co-administration of COVID-19 winter doses and influenza vaccinations.

For further information see ATAGI updated recommendations for a winter dose of COVID-19 vaccine.  

COVID-19 Update for Primary Health Care Providers - PHN GP webinar session & RACGP Monday 1 August 2022

Thank you to all who attended the COVID-19 Update for Primary Health Care ProvidersPHN GP Webinar session held on 26 July 2022. Please follow the link for the recording of the webinar https://youtu.be/BtVxo43KO_E and on their COVID webpage complete with slides to download here.

RACGP will be hosting the Syphilis update and changing epidemiology webinar planned for Monday 1 August. Recent data has indicated that cases of syphilis are on the rise and GPs are diagnosing more. Dr Charlotte Bell, consultant sexual health physician, will provide an update on syphilis and also monkey pox, with Dr Emily Kirkpatrick providing a brief COVID update.  

WCH Network GP survey

The WCH network is in the process of improving the way it communicates with general practice. They would appreciate if GPs could provide feedback via a 5 minute survey. If you would like to join the WCH GP communication list, or add any further thoughts, please email Health.WCHNGPLiaison@sa.gov.au

Murray Bridge GP Respiratory Clinic Recruitment

Murray Bridge GP Respiratory Clinic is looking to expand services to the community over weekends (9am - 4pm) over the next couple of months, with some weekday evening shifts maybe becoming available soon. The clinic is looking for a locum GP to cover the multiple shifts and are keen to hear from interested clinicians with Respiratory Clinic training/experience.

Remuneration is $250 per hour plus accommodation or return travel expenses from Adelaide CBD to Murray Bridge. The GP will be supported by an RN or other healthcare worker with Respiratory Clinic training and experience.

Please contact Sally Jarrett for further information at: sally.jarrett@bridgeclinic.com.au

 

Please forward this update to any colleagues who may not have received it and contact us at Health.COVID-19GPLiaison@sa.gov.au to be added to our mailing list or with any other enquiries. If you wish to be removed from this mailing list please reply STOP.

Dr Emily Kirkpatrick
Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Deputy Chief Medical Officer
Department for Health and Wellbeing