COVID-19 Clinic Too Busy To Check On Gold Coast Residents Despite Queensland Health Text Message

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Gold Coast Health reports that clinics testing COVID-19 have been “geared” to cope with increased demand after Robina was denied to people last night.

Resident John Wall says he received a text message from Queensland Health Wednesday afternoon stating that he must “get tested immediately.”

But when he arrived at Robin’s hospital for a COVID test, he was told the clinic was too busy.

“The staff over there said there were 2,000 messages sent and they just couldn’t handle it,” Mr. Wall said.

“I went there with a couple of hours left, but I was told they would not do them because ‘you are in a low risk group’ and they had other high risk people that they had to get tested first. “Mr. Wall said.

Mr. Wall said he received his text message at 5:00 pm.

“Within minutes, they were overwhelmed, and 3.5 hours before they were supposed to close, they began to abandon people,” he said.

Community response creates “some difficulties”

People line up outside the COVID test tent
Gold Coast Health says they are “overclocked” and ready for the influx of people in need of testing.(ABC Gold Coast: Heidi Sheehan)

Gold Coast Health said there was an increase in the number of people willing to take the test on Wednesday night.

Paula Duffy, Executive Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Patient Experiences, said employees prioritize close contacts or those with symptoms.

“The community response was so great that it is fantastic and exactly what we want to see, it creates some difficulties.”

Ms Duffy reiterated that it is important to respond to a text message as soon as possible, despite people being turned down.

People who needed to be tested were asked to return Friday morning.

“We have additional staff today in both of our centers to handle the additional people who pass through them,” she said.

“Today we are well and truly ready.”

Blame bad communication

A man in a white raincoat sits on a footpath outside a COVID testing clinic.
A man is awaiting a COVID test at Robin’s medical station in March.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

A local therapist said the confusion at Robin’s testing clinic was a wake-up call ahead of the border opening next month.

Dr. Natasha Yates said testing clinic staff and therapists need to know before the rest of the community knows that a surge is coming.

“Weak connection with the department, which has realized that there are people at risk who need to get tested,” said Dr. Yates.

“At the test sites, there was no opportunity to grow, attract personnel and obtain the necessary resources.”

People line up outside COVID testing clinic on Gold Coast
Dr. Natasha Yates says texting should provide more clarity.(ABC Gold Coast: Heidi Sheehan)

Dr. Yates said health care providers need more timely communication.

She also said that text messages that people receive should provide more clarity.

“It’s about communicating expectations and what the risk is,” she said.

“Of course, we need you to get tested in the next, I guess, 24 hours, but for now, stay at home and take care of yourself and your family.”

Mr. Wall agreed that communication needs to be improved.

“Maybe we should change the text message to say, ‘You are at low risk, get tested in the next 24 hours,’” he said.

“If this can’t be dealt with with Queensland Health, what are we hoping for?”

Gold Coast Health said internal planning is underway with the community and general practitioners to ensure that demand can be met after the borders open on December 17th.

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