COVID-19 Protocols From November 23rd 2021

COVID-19 Protocols From November 23rd 2021

The SA borders will reopen on 23 November 2021 and South Australia will be moving to a phase of “living with the virus”, meaning that we will all be at a higher risk of spreading and catching COVID-19. We wish to assure you that Flinders Fertility will continue to treat all patients, whether or not they are vaccinated.

 

Our top priority is to provide a safe environment for everyone, including our staff. Like all healthcare settings, if we have a positive case in our clinic we may need to close temporarily to undergo cleaning, and staff and patients that have been identified as close contacts will need to isolate. Quite apart from the financial burden this causes to staff, if this occurs, we could be forced to cancel patients' treatment and that goes against everything we stand for.

In order to mitigate these risks, we are making some changes to how we operate. The following precautions are already in place:

  • All staff, contractors, and delivery drivers have been vaccinated
  • We have asked patients for a copy of their vaccine certificate if they have one. (This is required just once so that we can add it to your medical records)
  • Surgical masks are worn in the clinic
  • QR code/attendance register is available on arrival at the clinic


From Tuesday 23rd November:

  • All patients will need to complete and sign a screening questionnaire in addition to the QR check-in.
  • Children under 12 will not be able to enter the clinic. To protect both them and other patients, please make alternative childcare arrangements. We understand that you may need to come in for multiple appointments during a cycle and it may be difficult to get support for every appointment. If you find yourself in this situation, we suggest speaking to our nurses about having some of your appointments by Telehealth and at external facilities for bloods and scans, or consider delaying treatment until restrictions reduce.
  • Only vaccinated patients and their vaccinated partners may attend doctor consults in the clinic.  We will convert appointments for partially and unvaccinated patients to Telehealth.
  • We have made some changes to our processes for vaccinated patients and partially or unvaccinated who attend for procedures (see below for details)
  • We may restrict on-site visits to patients-only during times of high community transmission, other than for procedures. 
  • All patients  will be asked to undergo a PCR COVID test and obtain a negative result at book on, and 48 hours prior to any procedure (so that the result is available before admission to Glenelg Day Surgery, or before attending the clinic for procedures such as embryo transfer, IUI, etc)

For fully vaccinated patients with a valid COVID-19 vaccination certificate:

  • Consults, counselling, nurse appointments, bloods, scans, etc will be held in the clinic as normal
  • Your fully vaccinated partner can attend (see below if they are not fully vaccinated)
  • You will be scheduled at the start of surgery lists for procedures
  • You will still need to undergo a PCR test 48 hours before admission to Glenelg Day Surgery or for procedures in the clinic

 

For patients who are partially vaccinated or who have a recognised medical exemption certificate:

  • Consults, counselling, and nurse appointments will be scheduled via Telehealth
  • Blood tests will need to be carried out offsite at a provider of your choice. Our nurses will provide you with pathology request forms at book on.
  • You will still be able to come into the clinic for scans, embryo transfers, and sperm samples, and for oocyte retrieval and surgical sperm procedures in the Day Surgery.
  • You will be scheduled after vaccinated patients and before unvaccinated patients  on surgery lists
  • For appointments in the clinic, we will ask you to wait outside in your car until other patients have left the area. Staff will phone you when ready and will wear full PPE in this situation.
  • You will need to undergo a PCR test 48 hours before admission to Glenelg Day Surgery or for procedures in the clinic

     

For unvaccinated patients or those without a valid

COVID-19 vaccination certificate:

  • Consults, counselling, and nurse appointments will be scheduled via Telehealth
  • Scans and blood tests will need to be carried out offsite at a provider of your choice. This will incur an additional cost, and our nurses will provide you with pathology and ultrasound request forms at book on.
  • You will still be able to come into the clinic for embryo transfers and to provide sperm samples, and for oocyte retrieval and surgical sperm retrieval procedures in the Day Surgery.
  • You will be scheduled at the end of surgery lists
  • For appointments in the clinic, we will ask you to wait outside in your car until other patients have left the area. Staff will phone you when ready and will wear full PPE in this situation.
  • You will need to undergo a PCR test 48 hours before admission to Glenelg Day Surgery or for procedures in the clinic

These precautions will be in place until further notice. 

Although unwanted, we hope that these precautions will help keep our patients, visitors, and team safe during this uncertain period. We expect to be able to return to normal operations over time, and we will be continuing to monitor the situation closely; however, it is likely that these restrictions will fluctuate over the next few months, depending on community transmission levels in South Australia.

Please continue to check our Facebook page for up-to-date information.

Stay safe everyone x

 


 

FAQ:

 

Why are you limiting appointments for unvaccinated patients when vaccinated patients can also catch or transmit the virus?

We appreciate that vaccinated people are still capable of transmitting the virus to others and that these precautions will not guarantee that we will escape becoming an exposure site. However, we do have a duty of care to all patients and our team and want to minimise our risks as far as we are able.

I am vaccinated, but my partner is not. Can we continue treatment?

Yes – in this case, you can either attend telehealth appointments, or you can come into the clinic without your partner and they can join the appointment by phone or Zoom. If you are having treatment and your partner needs to produce a sperm sample, he can do this in the clinic but he would need to wait outside in his car and our staff will call and let him know when it’s time to come into the clinic. Staff will wear PPE in the collection room.

Why can my child not come into the clinic with me?

We love seeing children in the clinic and we have made this decision very reluctantly. However, we view it as too risky for children to be on site when the threat of transmission is higher. The risk of transmission is very much higher for unvaccinated people and we would not want to put anyone, most of all children, at risk.

Can I come into the clinic for bloods and scans?

Vaccinated patients may continue to come into the clinic for bloods and scans, but other conditions may apply as case numbers grow – please check our Facebook page frequently for updates. Because of the higher risk of transmission from unvaccinated patients, we are minimising the number of contact appointments for them. We will continue to treat all patients, however, and provided we are not forced to close temporarily, all patients will be able to have embryo transfers, oocyte retrievals, intrauterine inseminations, and other procedures on site.

What will happen if Flinders Fertility becomes an exposure site and is forced to close temporarily?

We and other fertility clinics in South Australia have a reciprocal agreement to enable urgent procedures such as oocyte retrievals to be carried out at each other’s premises.

How long will these restrictions last?

We cannot say, as it will depend on community transmission levels, vaccination rates, availability of testing, and other factors. We will continue to monitor the situation daily and will provide updates through our Facebook page, website, and directly to patients when restrictions change.

Won’t having the vaccination reduce my fertility?

There is no evidence to suggest that having a vaccination against COVID-19 will impact your fertility. Click here for more information.

Shouldn’t I avoid vaccinations while I’m undergoing treatment?

We only recommend that you avoid being vaccinated in the two days leading up to or following a procedure – for more information, click here.

 


Sources: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/organisations/health-professionals/forms/im011