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Coronavirus (COVID-19)
patient information

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Important information about coronavirus
(COVID-19) for patients

We are closely monitoring the official health advice and guidance from both the WA State and Australian Federal Governments.

You can be confident that we have implemented all of the recommended measures and more to ensure your health and safety when visiting our clinics.

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Is The Lions Eye Institute still open?

Yes, we are open. Our ophthalmologists and ophthalmic nurses are reviewing each person’s requirements individually based on clinical need.

We are doing this to:

  • Ensure we address the needs of patients who require urgent or emergency care
  • Minimise the unnecessary need for people to travel to a clinic
  • Reduce the number of patients our ophthalmologists will see in a day to allow for extra cleaning requirements
  • Limit contact between our ophthalmologists and you our patients, as this is key to helping reduce the spread of the coronavirus
  • Ensure the health and safety of our team and permit social distancing measures.
  • Conserve vital disposable medical supplies (like masks) so they can be used where they are most needed right now.

What should I do in an eye emergency?

If you have an eye emergency, please do not wait for our response. Contact 000 or go to your nearest emergency department at Royal Perth Hospital or Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

What is the Lions Eye Institute’s opening hours?

The Lions Eye Institute has not altered its opening hours since the recent Coronavirus outbreak. We are open Monday to Friday between 8.00am –4:00pm.

Is it safe for me to attend the clinic?

Our accredited clinics and day surgery have always maintained the highest infection control standards and provided the best possible care to our patients and staff.

We started implementing best practice hygiene, cleaning and screening measures at the inception of the coronavirus outbreak. This was partly because we have had the benefit of learning from our colleagues around the globe, particularly in countries where coronavirus had an earlier impact than in Australia.

I have recently returned from travelling overseas/interstate (in the last 7 days) can I attend my appointment?

No, you must quarantine/self-isolate for 14 days.

If you have an eye emergency, please do not wait for our response. Contact 000 or go to your nearest emergency department at Royal Perth Hospital or Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

Will I be screened when I attend the Lions Eye Institute clinic?

We are screening all patients to discern travel history or known exposure and symptoms to reduce the risks to our patients and staff of the coronavirus.

What can I expect when I arrive at a Lions Eye Institute clinic?

We have implemented a risk assessment barrier system at the entrance to our clinics; this process involves a set of risk assessment questions.

Please be prepared to answer the following questions upon arrival:

  • Have you travelled outside of WA in the last 14 days?
  • Have you got family or friends that have travelled outside of WA in the last 14 days that are quarantined in your house, and if you have are they symptomatic?
  • Have you been in contact with anyone that is sick, can you tell me their symptoms?
  • Have you got any flu like symptoms, scratchy throat, cough, fever?
  • Do you have any symptoms that are characteristic of the condition conjunctivitis?

Our clinic staff will go through these questions with you to ensure you are at reduced risk of having coronavirus; we will then proceed with checking your temperature.

Should I come in for my appointment if I am sick?

If you have a cough or a fever, or have been in close contact with someone who has these symptoms, please call ahead of your appointment and let us know. If your visit is not an emergency, we may need you to stay home.

If you arrive at the clinic unwell, we may ask you to wear a protective covering or mask, and to wait in a special room away from other patients.

If you need to cough or sneeze during your consultation, move back from the microscope or doctor/nurse, bury your face in the crook of your arm or cover your face with a tissue. Wash your hands with soap and water right away.

I have conjunctivitis; can I still come to my appointment?

Conjunctivitis is frequently associated with upper respiratory infections including the common cold and the flu and has been linked to coronavirus. Health officials believe viral conjunctivitis develops in about 1% to 3% of people with coronavirus.

You will receive a text message from us prior to your appointment asking if you are suffering from conjunctivitis. You will also be asked upon arriving for your appointment and when going through our risk assessment barrier system.

If you have conjunctivitis, contact the clinic you regularly visit for guidance. We will likely delay your appointment or if your appointment is urgent you will be treated via telehealth consult over the phone.

Why are Lions Eye Institute nurses and support staff wearing personal protective equipment such as masks?

Much of the testing we do as part of our diagnoses puts us in close contact with you. Our decision to wear face masks, face shields and gloves is to protect both you and our staff.

Are you applying social distancing measures in the clinic?

Yes, we have moved seating in our patient waiting areas to approximately 1.5 metres apart.

Should I come early to my appointment?

Due to the Coronavirus, we are needing to maintain minimum numbers of patients in our waiting rooms to ensure social distancing is observed. With this in mind, it helps us immensely if you arrive on time for your appointment or no earlier than 15 minutes prior. 

Please do not arrive any earlier than 15 minutes before your appointment time, this will minimise the amount of time you spend in our waiting rooms or reception.

Can I bring another person to my appointment?

Where possible, coming to your appointment alone is preferred.

One person may accompany you to your appointment if you require assistance or you are under age. If this is not applicable we request you attend your appointment unaccompanied.

Extra family members or friends will not be allowed to enter the facility or to wait in lobbies or common areas. They will be asked to wait outside the clinic during your appointment.

We understand that these changes could be frustrating, however, these decisions are always made with the wellbeing of you and our team in mind and we ask for your understanding.

Do I attend the clinic for my regular appointment?

Our Ophthalmologists and nurses are reviewing each patient’s requirements individually based on clinical need, with priority given to urgent and emergency patients.

If your appointment is affected by this, you will be contacted by a member of our team to reschedule your appointment or change your appointment to a telehealth consult over the phone.

We want to reassure you that, if your appointment does get rescheduled or changed to a telehealth consult over the phone, it is because the risk to your eye health is considered low.

As you will appreciate the coronavirus situation is changing daily. Please be assured we will update you as soon as possible if there are any changes to our operating procedures.

If your appointment has been rescheduled and you feel that your eye health is deteriorating, please contact the clinic you regularly visit for guidance.

We will continue to provide urgent and emergency eye care for everyone who needs it.

My appointment is a routine visit and is not classed as urgent, can I reschedule?

For routine visits that are not classed as urgent, you can reschedule or choose to have a telehealth consult over the phone.

Please call the clinic you regularly visit for guidance if the following situations apply to you:

  • You have macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy and get regular eye injections;
  • You notice changes in your vision (like blurry, wavy or blank spots in your field of vision)
  • You notice a lot of new floaters or flashes in your vision
  • You suddenly lose some vision
  • You have eye pain, headache, red eye, nausea and vomiting

I have Intravitreal injections, will my treatment continue?

Please be reassured that your treatment will continue especially for conditions such as age related macular degeneration, diabetes or retinal vein occlusion.

A possible change to your treatment might be an extension of your treatment intervals to minimise your exposure to hospital settings. This decision will be made after reviewing each person’s requirements individually.

If this results in your vision worsening, it will most often simply require a short period of intensive treatment once the coronavirus situation has stabilised. Your ophthalmologist will speak to you about your treatment program either by giving you a call or at your next appointment.

For further information phone 08 9381 0777 and ask for the clinical care coordinator and explain that you are calling with questions concerning your intravitreal injections.

Is Lions Eye Institute seeing patients via telehealth?

Yes.

As part of the Australian Government’s response to coronavirus, new temporary MBS telehealth items have been introduced to help patients access health services by videoconference or telephone. These new items will substitute current face-to-face consultations normally available under Medicare.

Many of our ophthalmologists have already started telehealth consults with patients over the phone and this is an option for you if you have a valid medical referral.

How does Telehealth work at the Lions Eye Institute?

A telehealth consult with your ophthalmologist could be via the telephone or using videoconferencing software like Zoom.

Telehealth is not a substitute for physical examinations and the outcome of some calls may be to decide that a face to face appointment is necessary.

Do I need a valid referral for Telehealth consult?

Yes, as per your visits to the clinic you must have a valid Medicare referral.

Is all Telehealth bulk billed to Medicare?

From 6 April, 2020 if you are a Commonwealth concession card holder, a vulnerable patient or a patient under 16 years old, you will be bulk billed for the new temporary MBS telehealth items.

Who is a concession card holder or a vulnerable patient?

  • A concession card holder is someone with current, Commonwealth assigned concession card
  • A vulnerable patient is classified as one of the following; a person who:
    – is required to self-isolate or self-quarantine in accordance with guidance issued by the Australian Health
  • Protection Principal Committee in relation to coronavirus; or
    – is at least 70 years old; or
    – if the person identifies as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent—is at least 50 years old; or
    – is pregnant; or
    – is the parent of a child aged under 12 months; or

I am currently involved in a Clinical Trial – will it continue?

Yes, clinical trials are still continuing, although some changes are being made. If you are currently involved in a clinical trial, a member of the clinical trials team will be in touch with you shortly, to discuss how the coronavirus situation relates to your ongoing participation in the trial.

We know these times can be stressful and scary and we appreciate your patience and support more than ever during this time. Please contact your study coordinator if you have any questions and/or to discuss any needs through this period.

I am struggling to fill my prescription what should I do?

Your ophthalmologist can provide you with a telehealth consult over the phone and write you a prescription or fax/email a copy your prescription directly to your pharmacy if you have already run out of your medication.

If it isn’t urgent, contact the clinic you regularly attend and speak with our support team. Your prescription paperwork can be sent in the mail directly to you.

Ask your pharmacist for help if you have any trouble filling the prescription.

How do I pay for my appointment?

Cash handling is a concern, with strong evidence to support the fact that the coronavirus can spread easily through touching objects that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person on them. With this in mind, we will no longer be accepting cash. All payments must be made using card.

I often rub my eyes, is this ok?

We all do it. While it can be hard to break this natural habit, doing so will lower your risk of infection of the coronavirus.

If you feel an urge to itch or rub your eye or even to adjust your glasses, use a tissue instead of your fingers. Dry eyes can lead to more rubbing, so consider adding moisturising drops to your eye routine. If you must touch your eyes for any reason — even to administer eye medicine — wash your hands first with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Then wash them again afterwards.

Will wearing my contact lenses increases my chances of contracting coronavirus?

Contact lens wearers touch their eyes more than the average person. Consider, during this time wearing your glasses more often, especially if you tend to touch your eyes a lot when your contacts are in. Substituting glasses for lenses can decrease irritation and force you to pause before touching your eye.

Do glasses protect me from coronavirus?

Corrective lenses or sunglasses can shield your eyes from infected respiratory droplets. But they don’t provide 100% security. The coronavirus can still reach your eyes from the exposed sides, tops and bottoms of your glasses. If you’re caring for a sick patient or potentially exposed person, safety goggles may offer a stronger defence.

Thank you

Please take care of yourself and your loved ones. We appreciate your patience and support more than ever during this time, and we remain as committed as ever to supporting both you and our team members.

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