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Central Eastern Sydney PHN’s participation in Sutherland Shire COVID-19 Respiratory Kids Program

This month of July, Kirrawee Family Medical Practice has been approved to run the Sutherland Shire COVID-19 Respiratory Kids Program. It is an eight-week trial program to support the Emergency Department (ED) of hospitals, and to aid parents in treating the respiratory symptoms of their children.

Since the beginning of 2022, there have been a registered 1162 patients who been diagnosed with respiratory illnesses. About 290 of these patients under four years old, and 70 of them teste positive for COVID-19.

The idea of this practice is to allow parents to opt out of taking their children to the crowded emergency rooms of hospitals, where they are more vulnerable to catching other illnesses as well as the COVID-19 virus.

As we enter the second week of this project that started on the 15 July 2022, Annalyse Crane (GP and the owner of the practice) says that they will run until there are no more kids to see. Doctor Crane affirms that many of the children that show up at the ED are better off being seen by a GP at the clinic. “These kids don’t need to be in the ED but they definitely need to be seen,” she said.

Since March of 2022, Sutherland Hospital’s ED has registered double the cases of children bearing respiratory illnesses compared to last year. There have been at least 476 patients with influenza, respiratory tract infections, pneumonia, and RSV.

Doctor Crane is very positive about this new program as the numbers point to a high success rate. The practice has had its strongest year of child influenza vaccination, even though only 50 percent of the eligible children have received their COVID-19 vaccination.

The program is being funded by Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network (Central Eastern Sydney PHN). Brendan Googer, General Manager of Primary Care Improvement, says that the increasing number in children with COVID-19 like respiratory symptoms in the ED of Sutherland Hospital was concerning and caught the attention of Central Eastern Sydney PHN.

Brendan commented that “In partnership with the Sutherland Hospital and local GPs we established this new service to better support children and their parents get access to care after hours” and added that Central Eastern Sydney PHN sought interest from general practices within the shire willing to extend their opening hours for children experiencing COVID-19-like respiratory symptoms. Kirrawee Family Medical Practice put up their hand.

Central Eastern Sydney PHN is delighted at the success of this innovative service which is helping take some of the pressure off the Sutherland Hospital and ensuring children get access to local GPs.

Central Eastern Sydney PHN is providing funding, project support and ensuring that parents are aware of this new service.

For all those interested in booking appointments, they can be made through the HotDoc website or the HotDoc app.

Another way of helping this program is by keeping up to date with the recommended vaccines particularly during the winter months.

For more information visit The Leader article.