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Patients delay healthcare during Covid-19 shutdown

Concern is mounting for those putting off medical appointments because of the Covid-19 shutdown, Hauraki Health Centre says.

Practice manager Bronwyn Roberts said people were putting off seeing the doctor because they were concerned about safety during the coronavirus pandemic or they thought medical staff would be too busy to see them.

“Most medical centres are possibly worried about people delaying healthcare. We had an elderly lady in yesterday who had a fall and didn’t press her emergency button because she didn’t want to disturb the ambulance – that sort of stuff is going on at the moment.

“It’s definitely safe to come in now, we’ve got practices in place. It was safe to come in at Level 4. If they’ve got medical symptoms that they’re concerned about, they should be coming in.”

Patients need to call first to make an appointment, then when they arrived at the centre, they would be assessed in their car before entering the centre, she said. Surfaces are then wiped down after each appointment.

The pandemic had been challenging financially for the centre as regular appointments dropped off during the Covid-19 shutdown.

Fortunately, two of the centre’s doctors were working elsewhere during the pandemic, which eased the pressure financially, she said.

It had also been challenging to operate in a different way to usual.

“It’s been challenging in the way of trying to do things in the safest way possible,” she said.

“We need to see patients but we also have new ways of doing things.”

The centre has set up virtual consultations, however, that wasn’t always suitable.

“In the end, some consultations you have to put your hands on the patient – you have to take blood pressures, you have to examine an abdomen. It’s a good service but it can’t be a total service.”