COVID-19 PATIENT INFORMATION

How is Northern Gastroenterology responding to the COVID-19 health emergency?
Northern Gastroenterology is committed to providing safe, expert, timely specialist gastroenterology services to patients. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on the community at large and medical practice specifically. Our commitment to our patients continues but we have had to implement changes to our practice to ensure the safety of our patients and to ensure that we can continue to provide medical care to our patients.

Consultations:
From the beginning of June Northern Gastroenterology is offering a choice of face-to-face, telephone or telehealth consultations.  

Face-to-Face Consultations:

We request that patients do not visit our rooms if they have had a fever or respiratory symptoms (such as cough, sore throat, shortness of breath) or suspect you may have been exposed to COVID-19. 

 We will offer face-to-face consultation when our patients prefer it and it is deemed medically appropriate.  In order to safely offer this service, we have implemented a number of measures such as increased hygiene and social distancing measures in our rooms.  In most cases we ask that patients attend their consultations alone.  If a support person is required, this should be discussed with our staff before your appointment and it should be limited to one support person to avoid overcrowding in our waiting room.  On arrival all patients (and support staff) will be requested to sanitise their hands and we have a no hand-shake policy. 

 We ask for your understanding in adhering to these measures to protect our patients and staff and ensure that we can continue to provide medical care to our patients. 

Remote Consultations:

For patients who prefer to have their consultation remotely (and where medically appropriate) we will continue to offer that service.  All patients who wish to be consulted remotely should send their referral letter and any relevant results (blood tests, scans and previous endoscopic results) to our office.  This can be done by fax: 02 9438 4897 or email:  admin@northgastro.com.au

Our staff will contact you prior to your appointment to explain the options for your consultation and assist you with any set-up to ensure your consultation can proceed smoothly.

Fees:

Medicare rebates are available with a valid referral for both face-to-face and remote consultation.  There will be additional out-of-pocket fees for most consultations. 

Procedures:

The federal government has been regulating the volume of elective surgical and endoscopic procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  After a period in which elective procedures were all cancelled and postponed, we are now performing urgent and selected elective procedures.  Endoscopy units are not yet at full capacity and there is an additional backlog of postponed procedures, however, we are currently booking some urgent and high-priority postponed procedures.  The public and private endoscopy units will continue to monitor and respond to government advice to ensure the safety of patients and medical staff and manage limited resources such as the stores of personal protective equipment.

Our patients have differing indications and urgencies for their procedures.  We are working towards tailored solutions for each patient to ensure they receive timely and appropriate procedures.  This may mean longer than usual waiting times for procedures, but we are committed to ensuring none of our patients wait excessive or unreasonable times or are put at risk from prolonged postponement.  

Thank you for your understanding

These are challenging times for us all and circumstances continue to change rapidly. We may need to make further changes to our practice to respond to changing circumstances.  Please be reassured that we are taking every possible measure to ensure that we can continue to provide high-quality, safe and timely care to all of our patients.  

These are extremely difficult times specifically for our outstanding office staff. Our staff work tirelessly to ensure you receive the medical care you need.  We appreciate your patience and consideration for the wonderful job they perform in these unprecedented circumstances.