Face Masks: Important update for the Victorian public

You are still required to wear a face mask when attending the medical centre.

From the 23/11/2020 there are some changes to the mandatory wearing of face masks in Victoria.

All adults and children aged 12 years or older are now only required to wear a face mask in the following settings:

  • in all indoor venues
  • when you can’t socially distance with others outdoors
  • riding on public transport including at stations and stops (trains, trams, buses, taxis and ride share services)

If you’re outdoors and you can keep a safe 1.5M distance between you and other, face masks are no longer mandatory. 

You are still required to carry a face mask when you leave home unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so. Face shields, bandanas, scarves or loose snoods, loose buffs or loose gaiters on their own are no longer considered a sufficient face covering. A face covering must be a fitted face mask that covers the nose and mouth.  This can be a cloth mask or a single-use (surgical) mask.

Other important points to remember about face masks:

  • face masks continue to be an enforceable restriction in Victoria
  • face masks must be worn at all times if you attend the medical centre
  • children aged 2 years or younger must never wear a face covering due to choking and suffocation risk
  • families should make their own decisions about whether their children aged 3 to 11 years should wear a face mask in the required settings

If you are feeling unwell or have any symptoms of COVID-19 you should STAY HOME and call your doctor to find out how to get tested.

For digital resources about COVID-19 and the use of face masks refer to:

For 24/7 telephone support about COVID-19 call the Victorian Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.

For translating or interpreting call 131 450 first and tell them your language.  Click here for translated resources.  SBS Radio is also broadcasting COVID-19 news and information in your language.

Click here for the latest clinic news about COVID-19 on our website.

November is Movember

Movember 2020 has officially begun!

Across the world, men die an average six years younger than women, and for reasons that are largely preventable.

During the month of November we would like to encourage all our male patients to take care of their physical and mental health and to seek assistance when required.

Put on a mask and let’s have a conversation about prostate cancer, testicular cancer or your mental health.

Make an appointment with one experienced GPs for a health check this Movember! Standard consultation fees apply.

Click here to check out the Movember community.

For those needing urgent help call Lifelife on 13 11 14.

COVID-19 Update

Click here for the latest clinic news about COVID-19 on our website.

Testing:

Click here for a list of COVID-19 assessment and testing centres in Victoria.

Click here to find out more about The Call-to-Test service for vulnerable Victorians.  This service will enable some of our most vulnerable to get tested for COVID-19 at home with a qualified health clinician. The service will provide access for people who cannot leave home due to injury, mobility or other eligible reasons.

Clink here for information about the Coronavirus worker support payment to assist Victorian workers to get tested and stay home.

Face Masks:

Click here for information about face masks.

Victoria’s Restriction Levels:

Click here for information about current restricted activity directions issued by the Victorian Department of Health.

What to do if you think you have COVID-19:

If you think you have COVID-19 or you have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 first make a Telehealth appointment with one of our GPs to find out how to get tested.

COVID-19 testing is now recommended if you feel unwell with the following symptoms:

  • fever / chills / sweats

OR

  • new onset respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of smell or loss of taste)

If you have any of the symptoms, however mild, STAY HOME and seek advice from your GP by a Telehealth phone consultation first to find out how to get tested. 

You can also use this online interactive tool to help you better understand your risk of COVID-19 and precautions you need to take based on your personal circumstances.

If you need a COVID-19 test, you must GO HOME immediately after the test and remain in self-isolation until you receive your test result.

What if I am a patient at Victoria Harbour Medical Centre?:

Victoria Harbour Medical Centre is committed to ensuring the health and safety of all patients and staff.  We are here to help and have temporarily changed our service model to better manage your healthcare needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Whether you are worried about symptoms of COVID-19 or any other type of health problem, our GPs are still on hand to help.  We encourage you to continue consulting your regular GP for any health matter.

Safe in-person face-to-face consultations or Telehealth appointments are available.  You can make an appointment with us online or by calling the medical centre on (03) 9629 1414.  Screening questions will be asked when you book or attend an appointment.  You will always be informed of your options when you make an appointment.  It is now a Department of Health requirement that you wear a face mask when attending the medical centre.  If you need urgent medical care always call emergency 000 (triple zero).

If you are seeking information on COVID-19 call the Coronavirus Hotline:

Both hotlines operate 24/7 and will connect you to a registered nurse if needed.

For digital resources and daily health alerts about COVID-19 refer to:

Click here for RACGP guidelines, actions plans and a symptom diary for how to manage mild COVID-19 infection at home with the assistance from your GP.

For translating or interpreting call 131 450 first and tell them your language.  Click here for translated resources.  SBS Radio is also broadcasting COVID-19 news and information in your language.

Changes to Telehealth Fees

Telemedicine free icon

Telehealth phone appointments are still available.

You can book a Telehealth phone consultation online or by calling our reception team on (03) 9629 1414.

Telehealth was introduced in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  This service has now been extended to 31st March 2021.

Refer to our Patient Information section on our website about fees for this service.  Temporary primary care Bulk Billing MBS Telehealth incentive services as defined by the Department of Health will cease on 1st October 2020.  This means that there will now be a co-payment (out of pocket) fee for all Medicare Telehealth services.  If you experiencing financial hardship due to the current COVID-19 pandemic then please discuss this with your GP.

Telehealth consultations will continue to help regular patients of this medical centre access non-urgent but essential healthcare from their home.  This will support social (physical) distancing, quarantine and self-isolation policies to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread.  Refer to this MBS Telehealth Fact Sheet or the RACGP Fact Sheet for more information.

Consultations via Telehealth will only be provided by our GPs where it is safe and clinically appropriate to do so.  Telehealth is not to be used for emergencies.  For urgent medical care always call Ambulance Victoria via Emergency 000 (Triple Zero).

Our GPs are currently offering Telehealth consultations via 15-minute phone appointments.  Please note calls from your GP may come from a Private Number (No Caller ID).  Your GP will call you as close as possible to your Telehealth appointment time.  Make sure your phone is charged and that you are available to take the call in a quiet and private place.  Your consent and identity will be confirmed by your GP before your consultation begins.  Your GP will discuss with you the most appropriate course of care and if a clinical in-person face-to-face appointment at the medical centre is needed.

Common conditions appropriate for a Telehealth phone consultation include:

  • COVID-19 related health questions
  • Non-life threatening respiratory illness
  • Referral letters
  • Medical certificates
  • Discussing test results
  • Repeat prescription medications*
  • Repeat pathology investigation requests
  • Minor illness which can be managed at home
  • Routine PrEP and asymptomatic STI screening
  • Mental health consultations including mental health care plans and psychology referrals
  • Management of chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, COPD, blood pressure and heart disease

* This does not include restricted Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 (Controlled Drug) prescription medications and other Drugs of Dependence.

Click here for information about how to get a medication prescription if you have a Telehealth consultation.  Electronic prescriptions are also now available.

Click here for information about the Home Medicines Services.

Click here for the latest information about COVID-19 on our website.

For 24/7 telephone support about COVID-19 call the Victorian Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.

For translating or interpreting call 131 450 first and tell them your language.  Click here for translated resources.  SBS Radio is also broadcasting COVID-19 news and information in your language.

Electronic Prescriptions

Victoria Harbour Medical Centre is now electronic prescription enabled.

Click here to read the RACGP fact sheet about electronic prescriptions.

An electronic prescription is an alternative to a paper prescription. If you are registered with Medicare or DVA, your GP will now be able to deliver an electronic prescription to your mobile phone via SMS or to your email.  You will receive a unique QR barcode known as a token.  A token is not a legal prescription, but it can be used by an authorised dispensing pharmacy to unlock the legal prescription. All you need to do is show your token to be scanned at your pharmacy. The pharmacy will then access your electronic prescription and dispense your medicine.  Electronic prescriptions are not mandatory.  You still have choice to receive either an electronic or a paper prescription from your GP (but not both).  Electronic prescriptions comply with all relevant Commonwealth and State and Territory privacy, digital security and legislation requirements.

Your GP can send you the electronic prescription token via SMS or email. You can also ask your GP to print out your token for you.  You will receive one token for each medicine you’re prescribed.

Yes. If your GP has prescribed any repeats for your prescription, you’ll receive a new token from the pharmacy when the medicine is dispensed. Use that new token to get your repeat prescription.

Yes. Paper prescriptions will continue to be an option if that’s your preference. However, you can’t have both a paper prescription and an electronic prescription for the same medicine. The prescription will stay in the same form until it expires. Repeats for a paper prescriptions cannot be converted to tokens.

Yes. You will always be able to choose which pharmacy you prefer to fill your prescription. Not all pharmacies accept electronic prescriptions at this time, so make sure you check with your pharmacy if they’re ready to accept electronic prescriptions.

Yes. Just like a paper prescription, you can give your token to a family member or other person to take to the pharmacy and pick up your medicines for you. You’ll need to forward the token to their mobile or email. You can also forward your token direct to your pharmacy, and the pharmacy may be able to home deliver your medicines. Contact your pharmacy to see if they offer this service.

Contact your GP if you lose your token. Your GP will need to issue you a new token.

If you lose your repeat token, contact your pharmacy to have your token reissued.

Looking After Your Mental Health

It’s important to look after your mental health during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

We recognise the feelings of anxiety and concerns many people may be experiencing during this time, especially for those in self-isolation or quarantine.

There are a number of ways to support your mental health during this period:

  • Book a Telehealth phone consultation with your GP for a chat.
  • Seek professional support from a counsellor/psychologist early if you’re having difficulties*.
  • Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • Remember that your effort is helping others in the community avoid contracting COVID-19.
  • Routines sound dull, but they’re good for our mental health. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time, eat at regular times, shower, and change your clothes. This will help you to manage your days and adjust when life starts to go back to normal.
  • Try to maintain physical activity.
  • Manage your stress levels, and if needed, increase your coping strategies (for example, listening to music, watching your favourite shows, meditation or exercise).
  • Keep taking your medication. Phone your GP or pharmacist to find out how to get any new prescriptions you may need. If you’re staying at home and that’s disrupting your routine, set reminders to take your medicine when you need to.
  • For those already managing mental health issues, continue to take any prescribed medication, continue with your treatment plan and monitor for any new symptoms.

* The Australian Government will now provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions under a GP Mental Health Care Plan for people subjected to further restrictions in areas impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for more information.

There are plenty of ways to support other people, or be supported if you are feeling anxious or uncertain.

Where to go for help:

If you are experiencing an emergency always call 000.

Lifeline Australia 13 11 14

  • 24/7 crisis support service for people who are having difficulty coping or staying safe.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

  • 24/7 mental health support crisis call back service.

Care in Mind 1300 096 269

  • 24/7 free online and phone counselling for people living, working, or studying in Melbourne’s northern, central and western suburbs. This is not a crisis service.

Beyond Blue 1800 512 348

  • Coronavirus mental wellbeing support service. This is not a crisis service.

SANE 1800 18 7263

  • Services to help support those affected by complex mental health issues. This is not a crisis service.

Eheadspace 1800 650 893

  • Online and webchat support and counselling for 12-25 year olds, their family and friends. This is not a crisis service.

Mindspot 1800 61 44 34

  • Free telephone and online service for people with stress, worry, anxiety, low mood or depression. This is not a crisis service.

Brother to Brother 1800 435 799

  • 24/7 new crisis line for Aboriginal men has been set up to provide extra support during the COVID-19 pandemic. The line is staffed by Aboriginal men, including elders, to promote a culturally-safe service.

For youth focused mental health and support services:

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

Headspace 1800 650 890

ReachOut

Orygen Digital – Moderated Online Social Therapy (MOST)

For specialist areas:

Safe Steps 1800 015 188

  • 24/7 Victorian family violence support service.

1800Respect 1800 737 732

  • 24/7 confidential counselling, information and support for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse via phone or online chat. 

Directline 1800 888 236

  • 24/7 confidential alcohol and drug counselling and referral service. This is not a crisis service.

Gambler’s Help 1800 858 858

  • 24/7 free confidential online, telephone and face-to-face counselling, advice and information about gambling harm. This is not a crisis service.

MensLine 1300 78 99 78

  • 24/7 professional telephone and online support and information service for men. This is not a crisis service.

Switchboard Victoria 1800 184 527

  • Phone and web counselling, information and referral service for LGBTQI people. Web counselling through QLife Webchat. This is not a crisis service.

Head to Health

  • Digital mental health resource to support you through COVID-19. This is not a crisis service.

THIS WAY UP

  • Free online tools, practical tips and strategies to support your emotional well-being. This is not a crisis service.

Phoenix Australia

  • Useful resources to support health practitioners and community members during COVID-19. This is not a crisis service.

Victorian Department of Health

  • COVID-19 related mental health support services. This is not a crisis service.

For multilingual mental health resources:

Beyond Blue

  • Coronavirus translated mental wellbeing support service. This is not a crisis service.

Transcultural Mental Health Centre Resources

  • Several resources in multiple languages about wellbeing, stress and coping with disaster. This is not a crisis service.

Translating or interpreting:

For translating or interpreting call 131 450 first and tell them your language.  Click here for COVID-19 translated resources.  SBS Radio is also broadcasting COVID-19 news and information in your language.