The Macleay Valley has welcomed a GP led COVID-19 respiratory clinic after its official opening today in Kempsey.
The clinic is a part of the Australian Government's $2.4 billion health package in response to the virus.
Located at Tristar Medical Clinic on 35 Belgrave St, the clinic is the 6th to be opened in the North Coast Primary Health Network and will operate Mondays to Fridays, from noon to 4pm.
"Respiratory clinics in our PHN area are now open in Nambucca Heads, Kempsey, Wauchope, Yamba, Ballina and Murwillumbah," North Coast PHN CEO Julie Sturgess said.
The respiratory clinics complement NSW Health's existing COVID-19/fever clinics at Tweed Heads, Byron Bay, Lismore, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey and Port Macquarie.
Testing at the clinic is free due to the block funding provided by the Government with Federal Member for Cowper, Pat Conaghan, describing it as a great development for the area.
"Our community has done a terrific job of slowing the spread of coronavirus and I thank residents for adhering to the social distancing restrictions in place to achieve this," he said.
"We now have an important second tool in our kit to combat COVID-19 and that is a respiratory clinic in Kempsey delivered through Federal Government funding.
"The more residents that get tested, the better we will be able to identify people with the disease and who they have been in contact with through the COVID-safe app, and get life gradually back to normal."
Local nurse Cameron McMillan will lead the clinic as nurse educator and encourages residents with mild-to-moderate symptoms to come and get tested.
"Anyone can come get tested so long as they have any type of respiratory symptoms which could be a temperature, sore throat, dry cough or shortness of breath," he said.
"The testing is done by means of swab, we do one swab but two types, one is down the mouth and the other is down the nose - turnaround time (to results) we're thinking will be between 24 and 36 hours."
While the fever clinic at Kempsey Base Hospital will remain, the Tristar Medical respiratory clinic will ease the demand that was being placed on the hospital.
"The clinic will take pressure of our hospitals," Mr McMillan said.
"In a meeting we recently had with our hospitals and the local primary health network it was discussed how much pressure there was on the hospitals and the emergency departments and that is part of why we're opening up these clinics."
Despite the easing of restrictions Mr McMillan reinforced the need to adhere to government guidelines to keep the community safe.
"Still maintain your social distancing and if you have any respiratory symptoms come forward and get tested and don't become complacent," he said.
Anyone who is experiencing symptoms can go online at www.health.gov.au and use the online booking system to make an appointment.
Bookings can also be made by phone on 6562-2000.