Whanganui medical practices are an essential service and will remain open during the four-week Covid-19 lockdown.

But people need to phone ahead before visiting in person.

Lucy Drake explains how it works.

Medical practices which fall under the Whanganui Regional Health Network will deliver at least 70 per cent of consultations through virtual channels during the Covid-19 lockdown.

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"Currently our workforce has shown tremendous dedication and stamina to meet their patients' needs before lockdown," Whanganui District Health Board spokesman said.

"It has been an incredibly busy time, although ensuring patients have access to urgent care in the community remains a priority for practices."

WDHB said a collective approach is being taken to ensure as many as possible of the priority groups receive their flu vaccine from these practices.

Urgent after hours care at Whanganui Accident and Medical remains open until 9pm including weekend.

Aramoho Health Centre is limiting the number of patients doctors and nurses it sees in person.

Dr Chris Jacques emphasised it is still open and if people need care they can provide it.

"People can phone reception and reception will direct them to the right people to organise the care," he said.

Nurses will be at the front door meeting people when they come in and will talk to them about what they need and will either get patients to come into the clinic or stay outside depending on what they need.

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Aramoho Health Centre is one of many local medical practices that remains open but consultations are to be done over the phone. Photo / File
Aramoho Health Centre is one of many local medical practices that remains open but consultations are to be done over the phone. Photo / File

The centre is still offering the flu vaccine to those over 65, pregnant and those under the age of 65 with a certain medical condition.

Routine vaccinations for children are going to continue, Jacques said.

Lisa Bryers, practice manager at Springvale Medical Centre, said the centre was now in lockdown and all consultations would now be done over the phone.

When patients called for an urgent appointment people would be triaged, he said.

"A nurse will triage them or put them in contact with a doctor over the phone and the doctor will deem if they need to be seen."

The centre is still going ahead with child immunisations and annual smears for women who need it.

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They are also offering the flu vaccine to those over 65, pregnant women and those under 65 with a medical condition.

The flu vaccine is still being offered to those aged 65+ and those under 65 with medical conditions at some medical practices. Photo / Bevan Conley
The flu vaccine is still being offered to those aged 65+ and those under 65 with medical conditions at some medical practices. Photo / Bevan Conley

Castlecliff Health director Dr Praveen Thadigiri said it had also initiated their emergency preparedness plan.

As part of this plan they had brought in new health professionals and support staff to their team, to assist the regular team.

He urged the community to remain calm through the lockdown.

"We are with you right through this difficult period and the clinic will be open throughout the four-week Level 4 Alert period," Thadigiri said.

"These are difficult times and we are trying to do the best we can to work within the constraints from the pandemic that has challenged our teams and systems."

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Thadigiri said its premises was designed to have separate areas for isolation which the clinic was now using.

A team member is staffing their gate and main entrance and when a client arrives they are required to go through a mandatory Covid-19 screening questionnaire.

The lawns on the premises now house two cabins for the purpose of flu vaccinations and general consultations that require a face-to-face consultation.

All consultations that do not require a face-to-face meeting will be done over the phone or via video.

They have also created a website www.castlecliffhealth.co.nz that will give people details about their operations over the next four weeks.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

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