Dear Friends

BERRY MEDICAL CENTRE UPDATE July 2022

Dear Friends

“ We need to talk about…..COVID”

I trust this note finds you well. It does appear mentioning COVID has become somewhat “passé”, and I wish it were no longer relevant, but I am afraid its impact is now more real than ever. There is allot less fear and loathing and even less words. Having just been “on call” for the weekend, more than ten of our patients who were diagnosed with COVID needed and received the antivirals. To mention again : If you are over 65 with 2 risk factors or over 75 with one risk factor AND you develop COVID, you should contact your GP immediately for a Paxlovid or Lagevrio script.

In Australia we have had 6000 COVID deaths related to COVID in the first 5 months of this year. This is the biggest surge in deaths since the pandemic began. Currently there 3000 COVID positive people in hospital, and the hospital system is kindly described as overwhelmed. No one has any real idea about the case numbers because no one in power really wants to ask that difficult question. The powers that be, generally felt that we have heard enough.

We hoped Australia skipped past the other ravaged countries….“looking good.” Thankfully the milder Omicron and high immunisation rates protected us. But can I suggest you are not “feeling lucky” right now, if you are vulnerable or over 75. This is a serious threat and we should not feel we have to apologize for calling it. I understand “message fatigue” but we have one of the highest infections rate/capita in the world. These patients are fearful and worried about venturing out and facing so many unmasked faces in close quarters.

It is out of respect to those groups that there remains a place for masks and simple precautions. Remember every time you are in close proximity to someone, that you could have COVID and not know it, and you could be passing it on. Never before have there been more transmissions in Berry, than right now. Every person who gets any respiratory symptoms at all, please, needs to get tested.

Which then raises the issues of the third dose. Rates are less than 70%, compared to our previous 95%. You do need three doses to be covered and four if you are over 65 or vulnerable. The vaccine means you are 80% protected against severe disease and much less likely to get long COVID or end up in hospital.

Influenza infections have taken off, again threatening to crush the health system. We can now offer Influenza immunisation to everyone over 16. We are trying to stop a bad situation getting worse, here. You can receive this through your General Practice or Pharmacy. I appeal to you not be complacent. If you have ever had true Influenza? : it is just terrible. Eight million Australians have received the Fluvax, about half of the population who need it.

Anyhoo, hope you have heard my message. Both vaccines are not live vaccines and are safe, causing at most mild symptoms of the illness we are trying to prevent.

Please indulge me a little medical politics.? It’s a new government and new political landscape. Fiddling with Medicare for the past decade has been like changing the windscreen wiper blades on a car that is burnt out. That car is heading for the ditch. Funding primary health care (General Practice) saves the community money, many times over. Dollars get sucked into hospitals. Increased inflation and the costs of running a practice, have been spiralling further away from a what has been a stationary Medicare rebate. Hence your out of pocket expenses have been going up. The Medicare rebate is simply untenable. This is one reason why some practices are closing and so few young doctors are choosing General Practice. It’s another squeeze on the system. General Practice is just as anxious as our patients to see the big picture finally addressed.

Telehealth was expedient for COVID, but it is second best care. We can not make any diagnosis or significant management decisions, safely, without seeing you. If you are unwell or have pain: can I suggest not to sacrifice safety over convenience. Value your health enough to make an appointment with your GP. If you are worried about something urgent (like an infection) your GP will always find a spot for you on the day. If nothing is available online, please call the practice.

BTW : This is the time of year to get some sun, if you can. A very elegant study has just shown high Vitamin D levels protect you from dementia. (Remember your hat, before it’s too late!)

Cheers,

Dr Neil Donovan

on behalf of Berry Medical Centre