17 May 2020

COVID-19 testing takes to the road

| Edwina Mason
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COVID-19 testing swab.

The Murrumbidgee Local Health District has introduced a COVID-19 mobile testing van to visit regional towns. Photo: Supplied.

Efforts to stay one step ahead of COVID-19 has seen the Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) hit the road with a mobile van visiting towns in the region to test residents for the virus.

With 243,228 residents spread across 125,242 square kilometres, there is a lot of territory to cover, but after two weeks of the initiative, it has proven a tremendous success.

Next week will be the first time the mobile van heads to the South West Slopes, with visits planned for Harden and Boorowa on Monday 18 May.

MLHD district manager, virtual care, Phil Major said the district’s aim is to be agile and flexible in providing testing clinics where and when they are needed.

“Our team is ready to launch mobile and pop-up clinics which will enable us to be nimble in our response to testing for COVID-19 in emerging hotspots,” he said.

“The ability to mobilise our testing team will be critical as we enter the next phase of community transmission.”

Pop-up clinics and the mobile unit have been deployed based on demand and areas of the population identified through the MLHD Public Health Unit, and provide an additional service to standard testing units in towns.

The mobile testing van is being set up in easily accessible locations in each town which optimise patient privacy, pathology collection and also meet health and safety requirements.

Locations have been selected in consultation with the community, including local hospitals, GPs and council, and they provide access to residents who have found it difficult to travel to larger centres for COVID-19 testing.

Mr Major said the service will remain in the community until all assessment and testing requirements are met.

So far, the mobile service has proved successful with 150 people in Lockhart, Henty, Narrandera and Coolamon swabbed during the first four days of testing.

Mr Major said those results alone proved the need for the MLHD to be out and about in the community to ensure people have access to testing clinics.

“We have been really impressed with the turn out from community so we will continue to provide testing clinics when and where they are needed,” he said.

As of 8 am on Friday 15 May, the total number of identified COVID-19 positive patients in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District remains at 45. There has been one death, 42 recovered cases and currently no hospitalisations.

MLHD encourages anyone with respiratory symptoms to come forward for testing. The most common symptoms are fever, sore throat, dry cough and shortness of breath.

The mobile COVID-19 testing clinic will be in the following locations next week:

Monday, 18 May

Boorowa: 9:45 am – 11:30 am

Harden: 1 pm – 3 pm

Tuesday, 19 May

West Wyalong: 9:45 am – 2 pm

Wednesday, 20 May

Hay: 10:30 am – 1:45 pm

Thursday, 21 May

Tocumwal: 10:30 am – 1:45 pm

Friday, 22 May

Lockhart: 8:30 am – 11:30 am

Urana: 12:45 pm – 3:15 pm

Saturday, 23 May

Hillston: 11 am – 2 pm

Residents seeking an appointment are being urged to call the Murrumbidgee COVID-19 Hotline on 1800 831 099. The hotline is open daily from 7 am to 9 pm.

Callers will receive a confidential over-the-phone assessment, and if they require testing, an appointment will be made for them at their nearest, or preferred, location. This may be a Murrumbidgee Local Health District clinic or a GP.

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