Update on Medicare Changes

When the COVID pandemic started, the Australian Government put extra payments in place to help GP practices see vulnerable patients without out of pocket costs.  As of Oct 1st the Government has removed this extra COVID-19 bulk billing payment to GP practices.

Because of this significant change to Medicare payments Eleanor Clinic will return to its usual billing policy as of today. We have written about the need for those fees previously. This is the only way we are able to keep our doors open and provide you with high quality, personalised care. As always, we will continue to bulk bill vulnerable families under DHS care from Tweddle, and charge a reduced fee for those with a Health Care or Pension Card. 

There will only be a single out of pocket cost for the day if you see us via a Telehealth appointment first and your doctor then asks you to attend the clinic for a face to face appointment on the same day. We will also continue to offer short consults for simple repeat prescriptions and lost pathology forms without any out of pocket fee.

If you are concerned about those Medicare changes please contact your local member of parliament – feedback is the way to drive behaviour in politics.

If you are going through current financial hardship please contact our practice manager, Di, via reception to make a time to discuss financial arrangements.

We thank you for your understanding and support.

Your child’s asthma and Coronavirus

Marc Theilhaber

Dr Marc Theilhaber Children’s lung doctor

The corona pandemic has been with us for well over six months now and we have seen the devastation it has caused in many countries across the world.

Here in Australia things have been less drastic, but particularly here in Victoria we have experienced the devastating effect this illness can have on people.

Maybe more than any other recent illness, COVID-19 has shown us how different the effect of illnesses can be on children compared to ‘big people’. Often, infectious illnesses like influenza or bacterial infections can make children sicker much quicker than adults and, often, to a more severe degree. So it was only natural that parents all over the world worried what this would mean to their children when the pandemic spread across the globe.

We now know that COVID-19 is not a major risk to children. In fact, overall it seems to be less a threat to children than the seasonal influenza that can cause very severe illness – and sometimes even death – in children. Australia has seen only very few children with severe illness from COVID-19. No child in Australia has died from this illness.

But all over the world families, parents and doctors have been worried about another group that may be severely affected: children with asthma, particularly those children with ‘severe asthma’.

Let me give you the good news straight out: we have not seen children with asthma being at greater risk of complications because of this coronavirus. Even if a child with asthma does happen to catch COVID-19 they do not get sicker than children without asthma. Neither at Monash Children’s Hospital, where I work most days, nor elsewhere in Australia or anywhere else in the world have we seen children with asthma becoming very sick from coronavirus. This is very reassuring news. And to top it all off: adults with asthma who contract COVID-19 also do not seem to do any worse than adults without asthma.

After evaluating the international data on COVID-19 and asthma in children most of my colleagues and I have recommended for children with asthma to continue their treatment and daily life as before. For most asthmatic children there is no medical reason to keep them away from others or from school.

The most important thing for any child with asthma is good asthma control – whether that’s during the current pandemic or not.

So make sure your child’s asthma plan is up to date and school have a copy, you’ve got their medicines available and know how to administer them. And if any of this needs updating, see your friendly GP to polish up the edges. Almost all children with asthma are perfectly ok to attend school even during this pandemic. For those with very tricky asthma or complex medical conditions a discussion with your GP or Paediatrician will help map out the best way forward.

Domestic abuse and violence- You are not alone!

 At some point one in four Australian women experience violence in their intimate relationships. We all know women who are effected by domestic abuse and statistics tell us that they are not protected by age, race or socioeconomic status.
During this Women’s Health Week it is more important than ever to support the women and children around us. The COVID-19 global pandemic has affected all of us but for women living with domestic abuse the effect has been disproportionately large and hard to bear.
So if you are concerned about someone you know, ask.
And if you are in a difficult situation yourself, seek support.
Your GP is in a perfect position to listen without judgement and link you into services that can help and provide you with resources. You are not alone.
For urgent medical or police help call: 000
24 hours support: 1800 737 732
Safe Steps: 1800 015 188
(24 hrs access point for people in Victoria who need to leave a violent situation and access emergency crisis accomodation)
Women’s Health West: (03) 9689 9588
(Local service that helps with advice, court support, crisis housing, and services the promote healing and recovery, such as children’s counselling and health promotion)

Superglue for your health?

Dr Antje Theilhaber

By Dr Antje Theilhaber

My glasses broke and won’t stay on my head. Now I can’t read, can’t look through patient files, can’t do anything, really. But it’s Lockdown II, stage 4 and you can only go out for essential groceries and emergencies. Not really an emergency, is it? So here I am, fixing my glasses with super glue. No biggie. But I start wondering whether some of my patients might be taking a similar approach with their health. Superglue for your health? A truly frightening thought.

We have been worried about this for a while. My colleagues and I have all heard about cases where patients found a lump, or  a new mole, had chest pain or suffered from severe anxiety but decided to delay making an appointment with their doctor. Their fear about potentially exposing themselves to a higher risk of COVID-19, it appears, pushed aside all valid concerns about the real health emergency they may be facing – and should be addressing.

Can I suggest something? Call your GP and arrange a Telehealth appointment. Then we can identify the health issue and plan the next required steps together to tackle your medical issue. This may mostly be manageable via Telehealth. For some issues that may include us recommending to see you in person to make sure we can avoid your health issue deteriorating. We will only advise this if truly necessary but rest assured Eleanor Clinic has highly diligent COVID precautions in place. This includes full PPE for all staff, diligent hand hygiene and full room sanitisation after each patient.

True: Telehealth is not the same as face-to-face consultations. We do miss seeing you in person.
We love sitting down with you in our room, listening to you and being able to examining you properly. We miss cuddling babies, clowning around with toddlers and showing them they can trust us so they let us examine them. Walking with our seniors slowly into our room, watching how they carefully make one step after another.
So yes: Telehealth doesn’t offer it all. But it allows us to get to the core of issues and address them for many of our patients. We can take a good history, assess rashes using photos you send us, write referral letters, organise blood tests, x-rays and ultrasounds. Eleanor Clinic also supports electronic prescribing of your medicines where you simply present a bar-code to your chemist that we sent you electronically. And for those chemists that don’t yet support this we can fax your script.
If I made my optician’s skills sound like a success story, I’m afraid I spoke too soon. My glasses kept falling apart besides my super glue hack. So, I have actually made an appointment to get them fixed by a professional today. Turns out this is still allowed if you rely on your glasses.
So, take it from me: it’s worth having a professional help with the important things in life. So: please book an appointment with your GP to look after yourself. And I’ll be off having my glasses fixed professionally – promise!