A behind the scenes look at Eleanor Clinic during the COVID pandemic

News of what is occurring overseas is filtering in, becoming more real as our doctors and nurses keep up to date with overseas medical groups.

As the days go past, the team at Eleanor Clinic is working hard behind the scenes to change processes and accommodate Eleanor Clinic’s overall structure to ensure we can keep our patients and our staff safe. Some people may think we are going overboard but safety has always been on the top of our list and we are more than happy to wear that tag proudly.

The transition to telehealth would have gone smoothly if the phone and internet connections didn’t decide to suddenly break down. But we activated our back up systems and all swung into action. Facebook comes in handy to help keep our patients updated. All temporary roadblocks making life very interesting behind the scenes all while we are changing our model of care.

Reception has been inundated with queries , nursing staff and doctors also inundated – many, many phone queries. We are hanging on, trying hard to answer everyone’s questions when even the medical community are only being drip fed information. Hang on a minute, that order for gowns and masks – not coming through. Hand sanitiser and soap – unable to purchase any more. Head in the hands moment. Oh: and phones down again. But there’s more, one of our admin staff was overseas and is now in home isolation – hang on, another one same scenario – so we’re two staff members down for 2 weeks.

Meanwhile phone consults commenced. Confusing only certain groups are allowed to be Bulk Billed – reception starting to ask about medical history to see if you are eligible and book accordingly. Other phone consults – private fee, no rebate – we can’t charge full fee – so we reduced the fee significantly. This means less income to pay our staff and bills. Because times are so crazy we’ve had to call in our casual admin team to help out, leading to additional expenses.

Patients are frustrated , don’t like to pay without any Medicare rebate. We totally understand but at this rate Eleanor Clinic will shut down. Hang on a minute: government assistance – that will pay for a month’s worth of rent and give some reprieve. We don’t want to lose great staff and great doctors so let’s continue to restructure. Shorter appointments, waiting for Government to announce Bulk Billing for everyone’s Telehealth Consult – big hit on Eleanor Clinic financially but so much more accessible and easier for our patients.

We have to cut back consult time to 10 mins – no more leisurely 20 min appointments – they are currently a luxury item and sadly farewelled… for now anyhow. Upshot is our doctors are happy to chat by phone or video or even see you in the carpark when needed. Whatever it takes.

Meanwhile staff wearing gowns and masks with any patient interaction. Some people just don’t tell the truth – do you have a fever? Do you have a cough? Some answers should be yes but some are telling us no. Perhaps they are scared they won’t get medical treatment, we get that. But that’s not how we work at Eleanor Clinic. ALL our patients will get medical treatment, we just need to do it in the safest possible way for everyone.

More processes change, patients now sit in their cars if they need to be seen by a doctor. After an initial phone consult the doctor will see them in their car. Immunisations? Easy peasy, let’s set up a marquee and do as many as we can – quickly running out of flu vaccines, order some more, there is a delay. How long? No one can tell us, they will just show up one day.

Hang on, there’s more, power failure late at night. Off to Clinic to look after those precious vaccines and make sure our processes have kept them safe – yes! Processes have worked and vaccines very safe.
More information from Government, still a little confusing, more meetings, more discussion, more changes as to how we operate. Staff all amazing, going with the flow, working together as a solid team to get through this. We all have families, we all have commitments but everyone at Eleanor Clinic going the extra mile to do what it takes to be more available for our patients in the safest possible way.

Less sleep, no high fives and no hugs when things get tough. No more social dinners but we still manage to keep it together – there is more to come and it will get harder but we are all committed. A little bit of crazy dancing and poorly pitched singing – our patients can’t see us and hear us do this in the waiting area – it’s a bit of fun and gives us a giggle amongst the crazy chaos we find ourselves in. The only tears shed are when our patients leave us food parcels on our doorstep, anonymous flowers telling us we are amazing, notes of thanks and verbal messages of gratitude and that our patients are thinking of us. This all helps us get through the days as we prepare for more to come.

It will be hard and it will be challenging but we have a purpose. To help our patients who have supported us since we started only one and a half years ago. We are committed and we are ready, ready to answer your questions, ready to reassure you, and ready to take further action if you need it. Our information to you may change on a daily basis but that’s only because the information we are receiving is changing at least 10 times a day.

We are chameleons and our team will adapt to any changes that need to be made. We are all in this together and it is together that we will get through this. Yes, we will come out a little different to the way we were but overall we will be much stronger, more resilient, yet a little crazier. Everyone has their strengths and it can be as simple as staying at home while going stir crazy. Now that takes a lot of strength!!
We take our hats off to you all who are staying home and to those who are continuing to work in essential services.

It’s called teamwork and it’s what makes us strong. Without each other we have nothing!!