Horse float one minute, coronavirus triage the next

NSW country medico makes a unique mobile COVID-19 testing clinic

Coronavirus
A horse float has been set up as a mini doctor's room complete with wireless hook up to the medical centre's computers. Photo Anne Keen

A horse float has been set up as a mini doctor's room complete with wireless hook up to the medical centre's computers. Photo Anne Keen

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A horse float repurposed for the community's needs is exactly what's needed.

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The COVID-19 crisis has presented the world with several new challenges and rural communities in Australia are no exception.

Gloucester Medico has been looking at ways to continue to provide its essential service without putting its staff at risk. And thanks to a little creativity, it now has its own mobile COVID-19 testing clinic.

It's no surprise that Gloucester, about 120km north-west of Newcastle, would be far down on the list of places to get additional services, so Dr Michele Hogg decided to take action.

She was after a spare caravan the medical centre could use. Step up, staff member Liane Markey. She answered the call and offered up her horse float.

It's now parked beside the medical centre and fitted out as a respiratory clinic.

Patients who call for an appointment with flu symptoms are assessed over the phone by Dr Hogg.

"If they meet the very strict guidelines then they're asked to come in," Dr Hogg said.

A nasal test can be performed on anyone who meets the criteria, which is sent off to Newcastle for a result.

Before the horse float, patients were asked to sit in their car until someone brought them a mask before they were taken into a room. Now, patients can now drive around the side of the building and walk directly into the "mini consultation room".

The horse float is parked around the side of the building, far away from the main enterance.

The horse float is parked around the side of the building, far away from the main enterance.

"It means the waiting room is cleaner and less contaminated," Dr Hogg explained.

Basically, anyone who may potentially have the virus will not need to enter the medical centre. It's a way to ensuring the health and wellbeing the staff and members of the community."

The waiting room has also undergone a transformation, with the chairs set the recommended distance apart as per the social distancing criteria. According to Dr Hogg, maintaining the distance is vital as the virus is transmitted in the 24 hours before symptoms appear.

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