Maribyrnong Council Relief and Recovery Response Teams

We’ve updated our Covid-19 resource page but this resource is important enough to warrant a separate quick post.

Maribyrnong council has set up relief and recovery response teams that are available to support the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. These teams can provide information and advice about services that are available to those affected by COVID-19, including financial resources, food resources, and health resources. They can also coordinate service responses for individuals and families including emergency food hampers, and can assist with general and specialised service referrals. If you, your family or someone you know has been impacted by COVID-19 and is in need of support, please call our dedicated number on 9688 0434 from 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.


Eleanor Clinic Telehealth fee update

These are challenging times for all of us.

Let’s take a moment to see how the changes in current clinical practice (away from in person medicine) has affected clinical care at Eleanor Clinic.

We created Eleanor Clinic with one overriding principle in mind: To provide excellent health care within our own community, here in Melbourne’s West. We have been overjoyed and humbled by how much you all appreciated to have back a clinic that truly looks after you. Your clinic.

As you know, Eleanor Clinic has always charged a private fee for consultations. We’ve talked about the reason for this previously: it simply is financially impossible for us to provide appropriate health care solely from Medicare reimbursements. The only way we could do that were if we limited our consultations to 6 minute visits. We don’t want that. This is not what we came here for, and by any likelihood: this is not what you come to Eleanor Clinic for either.

So if we don’t want consultations that seem to be over before they ever started and leave you feeling like you haven’t been heard or valued at all we need to find a way forward to ensure the clinic does not have to close while being conscious of the fact that these are hard times not only for the clinic, but even more so for all of us.

We have introduced a reduced fee of $35 for Telehealth consults up to 15 minutes duration, and $49 for Telehealth consults up to 30 minutes.

In addition, we will bulk bill Telehealth appointments for patients with a health care or pension card, as well as children under the age of 16 years, in keeping with Medicare stipulations.

If you have recently lost your job and are in financial hardship, please let us know – we would rather like to help you out. Please keep in mind that privately run small clinics like Eleanor Clinic are well and truly struggling to make ends meet. You might have seen the recent article in The Guardian detailing the immense financial pressures small medical centres have come under.

A few large, corporate clinics have been marketing Telehealth very actively to patients. You should weigh up what is important to you in your health care and they way you would like to be looked after. As always in life, if you want your local clinic or store to get through this hard time, then support them! We all are determined to get Eleanor Clinic through the Covid 19 pandemic and to support our local community to get through this difficult time.

We are very much heartened by the support we have received from all our patients.

Eleanor Clinic was created with lots of love and a vision to provide high quality medical care in an area of Melbourne that has traditionally not always received the level of support and appreciation it deserves. Making a financial profit was never what we were after. But we need to be able to pay our front desk staff, pay our nurses and cover the high cost of running a medical centre that values human interaction most highly while never skimping on medical accuracy and safety. Your private fees will help us in keeping Eleanor Clinic open and continue to look after the community that inspired us to make this all happen in the first place. And for this we say thank you!

Update on flu vaccinations

We have secured a good amount of funded flu vaccinations for special risk groups. This includes:

  • people with chronic health conditions like diabetes, asthma, cancer and immune-compromising conditions
  • children aged 6 month to less than five years
  • people aged 65 and over

If you don’t belong to any of the above groups you should still get vaccinated – but the government unfortunately won’t cover you for the cost. The private flu vaccination is currently on order and we will update you once we receive the delivery. The available stock has been acquired by hospitals and the price has gone up. We will prioritise existing patients with the first batches we receive. We are very sorry for any inconvenience and disappointment.

All vaccinations will be given in the safety of your own car or in our cozy outdoor vaccination centre in our front garden where we employ very strict physical distancing rules. We have a doctor and nurse in attendance during vaccination clinics and will monitor you for 15 minutes after your vaccination.

Please remind your kids that we are all in “dress ups”. For everyone’s safety all of Eleanor Clinic’s staff are wearing masks and gowns. We adhere to meticulous hygiene protocols, including sanitising our between patients. Your children are very welcome to come in dress up – for instance as their favourite super hero! We would also love to get lots of drawings with rainbows or teddy bear pictures. We will laminate them (following sterile precautions) and are hoping to have our windows and garden fence decorated with your colour pictures very soon.

See you soon at Eleanor Clinic.

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!!