Adapting to live and work with COVID-19 | AMA (WA)
AMA (WA) | AMA Brand Colour

PREPARING YOUR GENERAL PRACTICE OR PRIVATE PRACTICE FOR COVID-19 IN WA

The AMA (WA) has compiled the following guidance and information to support healthcare settings in preparation for the opening of WA’s borders and the widespread transmission of COVID-19 within our community.

The page below expands on these principles, and offers guides and sources for materials and services, with some services available from the AMA (WA). The AMA (WA) has also been lobbying for the timely development and release of protocols and clinical guidelines.

  • Staff vaccination – ensure all staff are vaccine-compliant, with registry of proof.
  • Plan for treating unvaccinated patients – this is complex, both legally and ethically, and may result in AHPRA notification. Consult your medical defence organisation (MDO).
  • Ventilation – undertake a ventilation assessment and mitigate if unsatisfactory.
  • PPE (personal protective equipment) – source adequate and appropriate stock.
  • Fit-testing – should be undertaken for N95 masks or appropriate products procured.
  • Rapid antigen tests (RATs) – need to be procured and will form the basis for most patient screening. AMA Medical Products has RATs available for purchase, with priority given to AMA (WA) members.
  • Home care monitoring – the contract was only announced on 10 January 2022, with details of protocols, communications and clinical pathways still to be advised.

The AMA (WA) has been working tirelessly since Premier McGowan confirmed WA’s border reopening plans, advocating among a number of things, that WA Health develop and adopt a detailed Health Care Worker Risk Assessment Matrix, along the lines of the document released by NSW Health. Read NSW Health’s risk assessment matrix here.

This page will be regularly updated to provide the most contemporary information and advice.

  • Up-to-date vaccinations are now required for all staff who work at your office. Booster vaccinations are also mandated for all who are required to comply with vaccination requirements outlined in the directions issued by the Chief Health Officer.
  • WA Government vaccination mandates, including Booster Vaccination (Restrictions on Access) Directions (No. 2) and other directions made under the exercise of emergency powers under the Public Health Act 2016 (WA) can be found here.
  • As part of the AMA (WA)’s practice management resources, we have prepared advice and contract templates for AMA (WA) members, which can be accessed here.

  • Contact your medical defence organisation (MDO) to seek specific guidance about ascertaining risk and meeting your obligations as a healthcare provider.
  • AHPRA’s guidance statements for health practitioners can be found here.
  • You may consider using telehealth where clinically appropriate and should consider your practice’s technological requirements to facilitate this.
  • Consider ways you can carry out consultations, utilising safety measures such as PPE and physical distancing. This could include measures such as a drive-through clinic.
  • Consider coordinating specific sessions to see unvaccinated patients, such as on a particular day of the week, or at a certain time of day.

  • You should consider seeking advice from occupational health experts.
  • AMA Medical Products will be able to assist you with your practice’s requirements for indoor air ventilation. Visit the website or call 1800 626 292 (toll free).
  • Ventilation is best assessed using a CO2 monitor with ideally < 800ppm.
  • Where practical, use natural cross-ventilation, boosted by child-safe fans.
  • Service air-conditioner units to ensure maximum function.
  • HEPA filters can assist where inadequate ventilation exists, and can be obtained from electrical goods stores.
  • OzSAGE has prepared evidence-based guidance, which can be found here.
  • OzSAGE has also developed advice on how to reduce aerosol transmission in General Practice. Read the document here.

  • Ensure you have stockpiles of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). This should include safety goggles, glasses, face shields and gloves.
  • AMA Medical Products can assist you with your practice’s requirements. Visit the website or call 1800 626 292 (toll free).
  • Provide refresher training to all your staff about the importance of excellent hand hygiene and use alcohol gel (70 per cent or above).
  • You should follow contemporary clinical guidelines to ensure you use the most appropriate PPE.
  • When experiencing community transmission, high-quality, well-fitted masks will reduce transmission.
  • N95/P2 respirators provide superior protection to surgical masks. Fit-tested N95 or P2 masks and consistent mask wearing has been demonstrated to prevent cross-infection.
  • Consider TGA-approved elastomeric masks with a microphone, such as Sundström.

  • With waning immunity in those double and triple-vaccinated, consider use of a fit-tested respirator. Fit-testing services can be found here.
  • The Australian Government’s Department of Health publishes advice on how to fit and remove a P2 or N95 respirator, which can be found here.

  • The AMA (WA) has advocated for widespread use of medically governed RAT (November 2021).
  • AMA Medical Products will be able to assist you with your practice’s requirements for RAT. Visit the website or call 1800 626 292 (toll free).
  • RAT can play a role in patient-screening but will lead to delays of about 30 minutes in treatment, while awaiting the result.
  • OzSAGE has prepared some useful and relevant guidance, which can be read here.
  • Some practices in the eastern states are screening all patients and charging $10-$20 per test.
  • Guidance and protocols for use of Rapid Antigen Tests have been developed by WA Health.  This includes guidance on when to use a Rapid Antigen Test and how to register a positive result.  All positive results must be registered.  RAT guidance and protocols can be found here.

  • The AMA (WA) has written to the Director General of WA Health, advocating for streaming of COVID patients who require hospitalisation, when the virus is circulating within the WA community but not yet considered endemic.
  • The WA Department of Health has contracted Medibank Health Solutions and Calvary to deliver a virtual home monitoring service for COVID-positive patients who are assessed as having moderate to high risk of symptom exacerbation and hospitalisation.
  • According to the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), a central referral process for patients requiring acute care is planned and GPs are expected to have fast-tracked, priority access to this service for their patients.

WA Health is Western Australia’s public health system, consisting of the Department of Health, Child and Adolescent Health Service, North Metropolitan Health Service, South Metropolitan Health Service, East Metropolitan Health Service, WA Country Health Service, Health Support Services, PathWest and the Quadriplegic Centre.

ww2.health.wa.gov.au

Australian Government Department of Health develops and delivers policies and programs, and advises the Australian Government on health, aged care and sport.

www.health.gov.au

AMA Medical Products is a leading national distributor and supplier of medical product solutions. It is a subsidiary business of the AMA (WA) and members receive a 5 per cent discount on all purchases.

www.amamedicalproducts.com.au

OzSAGE is a multi-disciplinary network of Australian experts from a broad range of sectors relevant to the well-being of the Australian population during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

www.ozsage.org

WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) supports general practice, funds local primary healthcare services based on the needs of the community and connects local services to simplify the healthcare system. WAPHA operates all three Primary Health Networks in WA.

www.wapha.org.au

 

Disclaimer: The AMA (WA) has made every effort to ensure that, at the date of publication, the information contained in this fact sheet is free from errors and omissions, consistent with applicable laws and guidelines, and that all opinions, advice and information drawn upon to compile it have been provided by professionals in good faith.

Last updated: 8 March 2022