Caring for patients with COVID-19
This web page, developed by Queensland Primary Health Networks, provides support and information to Queensland general practices during the transition to living with COVID-19. Information is regularly updated as it becomes available.
General practices are being asked to focus on care for people with moderate risk. People triaged as moderate risk through the National Coronavirus Helpline and COVID-19 symptom checker are advised to seek care from their GP. The vast majority of care will be delivered by telehealth.
GPs should refer to their local HealthPathways for up-to-date information on the clinical management of these patients, including escalation pathways if people deteriorate and referral to disease modifying treatments such as monoclonal antibodies.
Patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged to call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 which operates 24 hours a day.
The Helpline now provides health advice for people who are COVID-19 positive and need support managing symptoms at home or knowing when they should seek medical assistance.
Call handlers will use the recently updated COVID-19 symptom checker to assess caller symptoms and provide advice on whether the caller needs to get to hospital, should contact their GP or can manage at home, based on the severity of their symptoms. As per the current service, callers requiring clinical support can speak with a clinical professional.
Patients will be triaged below:
- Low risk patients – can be self-managed at home
- Moderate risk patients - can be managed by GPs in their homes
- High risk patients – to be managed by the HHS either through the virtual ward or in hospital
- Critical – call 000 for emergency care
View the risk stratification framework: Home - National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce (covid19evidence.net.au)
For escalation of patients to the HHS, refer to local health pathways.
Commissioned home visits for COVID-19 positive cases
Most people with COVID-19 recover at home without face-to-face medical care and most consultations can be resolved with high quality telehealth consultations. However, in limited circumstances where telehealth is not appropriate, support is now available for an in-home visit where the visit will help avoid unnecessary escalation of COVID positive patients to hospital.
Under the program, Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast PHN (the PHN) will provide support to general practices who are actively managing COVID-19 positive cases in the community. This initiative will facilitate in home visits for those individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or who are impacted by a COVID-19 isolation direction while isolating at home or in a Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACF). This support may be especially helpful for those with more complex co-morbid medical conditions and risk factors for deterioration who need assessment and management of other health conditions e.g. minor injury, wound dressings.
A general practitioner must assess the appropriateness and eligibility of a home visit, however practices can engage their practice nurses, nurse practitioners or general practitioners to conduct the home visit as deemed necessary. Home visits under this program are not intended to be for routine monitoring or for a reason that can be delayed until after the isolation period.
The practice will be paid a $250 fee for each visit. This includes an amount for reporting requirements and is a flat fee for all visits.
The PHN can also support in-home practice visits with PPE bundles for practitioners – orders can be places via our PPE Bundle and Emergency Provision Ordering Form.
For further information or to register your interest in joining this initiative please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Omicron COVID variant has resulted in high case numbers across Queensland. As a result of the pressure this has put on the health system, acute care services are focusing their capacity on care for people with COVID that are moderate to high risk. In this environment general practices are being asked to focus on care for people with moderate risk.
Patients triaged as moderate risk through the National Coronavirus Helpline and COVID-19 Symptom checker are advised to seek care from their general practitioner. The vast majority of care will be delivered by telehealth.
Advice about care for moderate risk patients is available through guidelines developed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and local health pathways which are the trusted and most current source of clinical information.
General practices are encouraged to plan for an increase in demand for same day telehealth appointments for COVID-19 positive patients.
Strategies to increase same-day telehealth availability may include:
- Reserving more appointments for same day urgent appointments or telehealth
- Designating identified GPs exclusively for same day telehealth COVID care
- Cancelling or re-scheduling non-urgent care
General practitioners should refer to HealthPathways (see below) for up- to-date information on the clinical management of these patients, including escalation pathways if patients deteriorate and referral to disease modifying treatments such as monoclonal antibodies.
The Queensland-wide COVID-19 Case Management Health Pathway is being updated regularly and is now available for clinicians and provides clinical guidance on the assessment, triage and management of COVID-19 positive patients in the community.
- Queensland HealthPathways sites provide up-to-date COVID-19 guidance for Health Providers managing suspected and positive COVID-19 patients.
- COVID-19 Case Management - This pathway is for the management of patients with confirmed COVID-19 (by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or rapid antigen test (RAT) or patients highly suspected to have COVID-19 and awaiting testing.
- Suspected COVID-19 - This pathway is for patients presenting with symptoms of COVID-19-compatible illness and includes management up until test results have been received.
- COVID-19 Requests - This page is about requesting COVID-19-related services and equipment in your region.
- COVID-19 in Residential Aged Care Facilities - This pathway for general practitioners assessing and managing a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in a residential aged care facility (RACF).
- COVID-19 Practice Management - This Queensland-wide page is about preparing a general practice to respond to COVID-19, including strategies to manage an influx of affected patients. It has been written to allow information sharing across Queensland and to coordinate regular and frequent updates.
Local Health Pathways
Local HealthPathways specific to each region and health district in Queensland provide the latest information about COVID care management and are regularly are being updated. Practitioners are encouraged to check they have access to HealthPathways. If you do not have access to HealthPathways, please contact your local PHN for login details.
The COVID-19 In The Community Preparation Checklist is also a useful supporting document.
Is your practice COVID prepared?
Download the checklist for practices to assist with COVID-19 preparedness.
Key messages for your practice to communicate to patients
The following key messages may be useful for general practices to include in consumer messaging on your practice website and phone message:
- Helpful information is available for patients with COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms through the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 or healthdirect website.
- The vast majority of patients will have mild symptoms and are encouraged to manage their own care at home using the information available on this website or with support through the National Coronavirus helpline.
- If you have been advised to access urgent emergency department care or ambulance care, please hang up now and call 000 or present to the hospital emergency department.
- If you have been advised through the National Coronavirus Helpline or healthdirect website to seek care from your GP, please book a telehealth appointment through (insert link to relevant practice booking diary application) or stay on the line and we will schedule you an appointment.
- GP services for people with COVID-19 or COVID symptoms are also available through general practice respiratory clinics and appointments can be scheduled through hotdoc.com.au
Healthdirect has consumer resources, for your patients. This includes:
- How to prepare a kit to manage COVID-19 at home
- COVID-19 Symptom Checker tool – to help people understand their symptoms and know when to seek medical help
- What to do if you have COVID – easy guide for isolating and gateway to comprehensive FAQ info hub
- What are COVID-19 rapid antigen tests (RATs) and where can I buy them?
MBS COVID-19 Management Support Service
- The Department of Health has extended the healthdirect Video Call COVID- 19 GP Program to 30 June 2022.
- We encourage you to continue using this secure video consulting platform which has been purpose-built for primary care settings.
- For GPs in private practice wanting to start using the service, please register your practice. For GPs in ACCHOs wanting to start using the service, please register for access.
Until 30 June 2022, a temporary Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item has been made available to support medical practitioners providing clinically relevant treatment to COVID-19 positive patients.
The Australian Government Department of Health has released guidance on access to PPE bundles and pulse oximeters for practices willing to treat low-risk COVID-19 positive patients face-to-face.
This Distribution of PPE through PHNs communications statement outlines the PPE available, eligibility criteria and associated obligations of GPs, ACCHSs and GPRCs wishing to access the National Medical Stockpile (NMS).
Your local PHN will provide further details about how you can access PPE.
Find links to the latest information and guidelines for clinicians on living with COVID-19 in the community, here:
- Home-care guidelines for patients with COVID-19 (RACGP)
- Caring for adult patients with post-COVID-19 conditions (RACGP)
- COVID-19 resources (RACGP)
PPE and Infection Control
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) and latest updates (Queensland Health)
- Guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers in the context of COVID-19 (Australian Government Department of Health)
- The use of face masks and respirators in the context of COVID-19 (Infection Control Expert Group, Australian Government)
- Fit Testing of P2/N95 respirators in respiratory protection programs– Guidance (Australian Government Department of Health)
- Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2021) (Australian Government Department of Health)
- Webinar: Basic Principals of Infection Prevention & Control (NQPHN/APNA)
- Work permissions and restrictions framework for workers in healthcare settings (Australian Government Department of Health) – includes appropriate PPE guidance
- Respiratory and Eye Protection Decision Aid
- Queensland Health fact sheet outlining recommendations for cleaning and disinfection of the environment where people suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 infection may have been.
- Download an infection control poster for your practice: Break The Chain Poster (A3)
- Updated advice on requirements for workers in health care settings who are exposed to COVID-19 (Australian Government Department of Health)
- Permissions and Restrictions for Workers in Health Care Settings – Interim Guidance (Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC)
- Managing COVID-19 at home with assistance from your general practice (RACGP)
- COVID-19 rapid antigen self-tests that are approved in Australia (Therapeutic Goods Administration)
- DSS Grants Service Directory (Australian Government Department of Social Services)
- Getting help during coronavirus (COVID-19) (Services Australia)
- COVID -19 Resources – Qld Health Library
- Managing COVID-19 at home (Healthdirect Australia)
- How to prepare a kit to manage COVID-19 at home (Healthdirect Australia)
- COVID-19 Symptom Checker tool – to help people understand their symptoms and know when to seek medical help (Healthdirect Australia)
- What to do if you have COVID (Healthdirect Australia
- What are COVID-19 rapid antigen tests (RATs) and where can I buy them? (Healthdirect Australia)
- What to do if you have COVID-19 (Queensland Government)
- Getting help during coronavirus (COVID-19) (Services Australia)
COVID-19: Latest update for Queensland general practice
WEBINAR RECORDING AND RESOURCES
A recording and resources from the webinar on Monday 7 February 2022 for Queensland GPs and general practice staff are now available. These include presentations and resources from Queensland Health, Healthdirect, RACGP and Queensland Primary Health Networks on the current COVID-19 situation in Queensland.
Topics that were discussed include:
- the model of care for Queensland general practice,
- managing COVID-positive patients,
- how general practice is currently delivering care,
- clinical pathways,
- clinician and consumer resources,
- the national model and what Queensland consumers and general practice will experience.