Dear Friends 


Strange times are upon us and we are making headway. As a community,  and as a clinic,  there is  social upheaval and change. Like really BIG changes. We are on a war footing. This is what we as health care workers train for and this is what you, our patients, are adapting to. 

We are facing a threat together.  

It is OK to feel unsettled, fearful or scared. The best we can offer each other is “ We feel it too, you are not alone” not that “Everything will be fine” or “Don’t worry”. 

We can predict this spike in infections will end and that the illness is mild in 80% of cases. It is normal to be uncertain, to fear the unknown, to be apprehensive but also confident because we are resourceful, we are resilient, we are working together and that we consider that every patient and every single  interaction is absolutely critical. 

Consultations will be different. Our interactions at the surgery will be brief and spatially distanced, where possible. This surgery will always be available but also we need to be flexible and we can, from today, offer Teleconferencing, instead of face to face if that is appropriate. 

We may be  phoning or returning your call as we continue to look to your chronic health needs  and preventative health checks. Rest assured we will be getting this seasons’ Influenza vaccination  to you  as soon as we have it, but obviously that will be different this year as well. 

Please know we are taking every possible measure to minimise risk of viral transmission. 

We need to greet you differently at the door, we need triage patients before they come into the Surgery.  That means you may need to call from your car or just outside the surgery. We may need to check your temperature  on arrival and ask for you to keep the appropriate distance, practice correct cough etiquette and limit touching your face or any surfaces.  

We may need to wear a mask or ask you to wear a mask. 

We may need to consult you  at home, outside or in the tent outside. 

In the surgery we are undertaking regular deep cleans of every surface, making sure all our staff are well and being checked and also following correct procedures. 

Skin checks will be done differently  and we are aiming to have as few people waiting in the surgery as possible. 

Just at the moment, we are seeing so many patients with other viral illnesses, patients with chills, headache and sore throat. When tested, these have all been other viruses and not Corona virus. It seems an unhappy coincidence, that in Berry, we are seeing so many other viruses are the moment. It will take two weeks or a change in testing policy, before we can know if that pattern is changing. 

Shoalhaven Hospital has a fever clinic and Southern Pathology has a testing clinic.  

If it is appropriate, we can test you at the surgery.  

But the testing criterion are very strict and I trust the experts are rationing resources.  

From our perspective, it will feel better when we can test more patients and get results quickly. However, we need to follow guidelines and ask for your patience on this score. If you are tested, it is mandatory strict self-isolation. 

We have drips and IV antibiotics on the ready if it comes to that. Our goal as always is to keep you out of hospital. 

Unfortunately, we have just learnt Southern Pathology cannot currently supply a collecting service to Berry Medical Centre, during this time. Gerringong reamins open but not Shoalhaven Heads. 

We also recognise there may be new financial hardship for some, particularly if you are newly unemployed. Please let us know your circumstances, but I trust I can mention, General Practice has to remain viable to stay open, we are a private enterprise. The understanding from the Government is, that like other small business, we need to get through this, and hopefully they can supply enough masks, testing and vaccines, as we need them ( like now! ) 

Please heed the messages, take care and stick with us. We are here to help.

Dr Neil Donovan on behalf of the doctors, nurses and staff at Berry Medical  Centre