Call for coronavirus testing clinic at Altona North

Mukesh Haikerwal at the door to his Altona North GP clinic. Photo: Damjan Janevski

Goya Dmytryshchak

One of the 100 “GP respiratory clinics”promised by the federal government could be established at Altona North.

Respiratory clinics are specialist clinics for people who may be infected with coronavirus (COVID-19), and are designed to help keep potentially contagious people away from other areas of hospitals and health centres.

Dr Mukesh Haikerwal said his group would like its practice to become a formal respiratory clinic, including testing for COVID-19.

“The alternative is to shut up shop, not do any testing, send everybody to hospital, everybody wait for five hours in the queue at the hospital and we just see people by video,” he said.

“That’s our alternative. We can’t do what we’re doing anymore because we won’t have enough garb. Our team is running ragged.”

“We could do this in the west and provide a great service for the people in the west.”

As reported by Star Weekly, Dr Haikerwal said GPs were not equipped to deal with a potential coronavirus outbreak and he called for “sentinel practices” to be established.

“We decided, after our first concerning case came into the practice, that we could not handle those in the practice,” he said last week.

“We actually put all of our passport control tape around the entrance downstairs.

“We ended up having to put a table in the door because even with tape, people didn’t stop.

“We put two nurses there so they can have a good conversation about what’s going on, and if they [patients] have anything respiratory, to do with their breathing, they should not be seen in the clinic because there is a risk they’ll have a virus which could be COVID.”

The clinic became the first in Victoria to start swabbing people for coronavirus in the carpark, but by last week it had run out of swabs and other gear.