A manager of the COVID-19 Fever Clinic at Grafton Base Hospital, Travis Armstrong, putting out some of the signage for clinic which opened on Monday morning.
A manager of the COVID-19 Fever Clinic at Grafton Base Hospital, Travis Armstrong, putting out some of the signage for clinic which opened on Monday morning.

Clarence COVID-19 clinic scrambles to open

THE Clarence Valley now has a COVID-19 fever clinic, although the scramble to open it yesterday morning revealed there had not been extensive planning for it.

Grafton Base Hospital executive manager Dan Madden said outside doors to the clinic, opposite the entrance to the emergency department, had been screwed shut for years.

"We've just uncscrewed them for the first time in ages," he said. "We were supposed to be open by 10am, but there was a lot of work for us to do."

Staff at the clinic said there had been no-one booked in for tests at the time the clinic opened.

Mr Madden said the public should remember it was not "open slather" at the clinic.

"We'll be only testing people who meet the NSW Health guidelines for those who need testing," he said.

The Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive, Wayne Jones, said two new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the health district bringing the its total yesterday to seven.

Mr Jones said six of those were in self-isolation at home and one person was in hospital.

Mr Jones also welcomed the opening of the COVID-19/flu clinic at Grafton Base Hospital,

It's opening hours would be 10am to 6pm daily, the same as existing COVID-19/flu clinics at The Tweed Hospital and Lismore Base Hospital.

Mr Jones said these clinics were reserved for those most at risk with respiratory symptoms or fever, those returning from overseas or in contact with a COVID-19 case, or people like health workers.

"It is vital that these respiratory clinics are not overwhelmed with people who are not in the high risk groups, which could result in delays identifying those most vulnerable. People without symptoms do not need to be tested," he said.

<< Follow this link to stay up to date with the latest coronavirus information specific to the Clarence Valley >>


The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, headache, runny nose, or shortness of breath. Anyone with symptoms should isolate themselves from others.

Mr Jones said the health district had plans in place to accommodate patients requiring hospitalisation for COVID-19.

"We are taking a phased approach, where the first phase of cases will be cared for at Lismore Base Hospital," he said.

"If further hospitalisations arise, the second phase of patients would be cared for at The Tweed Hospital, and the third phase at Grafton Base Hospital if required.

"These plans include the separation of COVID-19 patients from other intensive care patients within the unit."

He said other patients and visitors were not at any additional risk when visiting a hospital caring for patients with COVID-19.

But he said hospitals had restricted visitor numbers to two per patient, as a precaution against spreading the virus further in the community.

"This is an evolving situation, and this advice may change at short notice," he said.

For advice and information about COVID-19 visit here.

Meanwhile, staff at Grafton Base Hospital dismissed rumours of a positive COVID-19 test there over the weekend.

"If it had happened we would have needed to report it to NSW Health," a source inside the hospital said. "There's not been anything reported so far as I can tell."

Senior staff at the hospital held a number of meetings to discuss how they would implement plans if and when COVID-19 cases began to happen.

"There's not a lot happening at the moment, but that's not an excuse to do nothing," a doctor said.

"We're looking at doing things like bringing forward elective surgery and heading off emergencies."

He said as an example a patient who had a hernia problem that might create an emergency in the near future, who could have an operation done now, before resources were stretched.

"You don't want to do silly things, like fix a patient with a cataracts problem scheduled for 12 months time, that just uses up PPE equipment," he said.

"But if you can do surgeries on things that might come back in a few weeks, that helps."

For more stories on coronavirus in the Clarence Valley click here.

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