Communities around the region have been bolstered by a new COVID-19 Respiratory Clinic at the Cowra Medical Associates.
The clinic began operation on Monday under strict infection control guidelines.
Member for Riverina and Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack was on hand for the launch and said the Cowra clinic is among 100 being opened around Australia to assess patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 like symptoms.
"The GP-led clinics will help to reduce pressure on hospital emergency departments and other general practices," Mr McCormack said.
"Rural and regional residents deserve health care services which are just as good as those provided in our major cities and the national roll-out of these new clinics is part of addressing that.
"These respiratory clinics will be vital in the fight against COVID-19 and anyone with symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and other respiratory symptoms should be tested to help avoid the risk of infection in our local communities."
Cowra Medical Associates Practice Manager, Maryann Wood, said the new clinic would operate in a similar fashion to the one which began in March.
"We implemented a clinic in response to COVID-19 about eight weeks ago, so for patients the system is still going to run the same," she said.
"They will ring the practice, they'll let the receptionist know they have respiratory symptoms, they'll be told to come to the practice at a certain time, pull up in the car park, ring the reception from their car and they will be clerked into the clinic.
"They'll be triaged over the phone then the doctor will make a decision about what we do and the patient will pull up and stay in their car until they are told where to go," she said.
Mrs Wood said it was important the community didn't enter the practice if they had any respiratory symptoms.
"The most important message we can give to people is please don't enter the building, that's still not getting across," she said.
"It's any symptom on the list now, even if it's something normal for you to have you need to come through the respiratory clinic.
"Even if your child has a runny nose please don't come into the building, for the protection of everybody," she said.
Mrs Wood said the while the clinic will operate from 8.30am to 12.30pm weekdays, provisions would be to see people outside those hours.
"Patients please be assured if you get symptoms in the afternoon ring the practice we will make arrangements for you to be seen," she said.
Cowra Council Mayor, Councillor Bill West, praised the community for its efforts in responding to the threat of COVID-19.
"The people of Cowra have conducted themselves exceptionally during this time, and I implore locals to continue to follow the social distancing, gatherings and travel guidelines being directed by the NSW and Federal Governments," he said.
"This new Respiratory Clinic facility is another vital step forward for our community to continue to stay safe.
"It is a perfect example of what can be achieved by communities when supported in cooperation by Federal and Local Governments and the integral work of Cowra Medical Associates and the Western NSW Primary Health Network."
Western NSW Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN) CEO Andrew Harvey says the Cowra Respiratory Clinic complements an enormous amount of work already undertaken by GPs and clinicians across hospital and primary health care, further strengthening the preparedness for COVID-19, and importantly also ensuring the vital business of regular primary care continues unhindered.
"This respiratory clinic provides additional capacity in Cowra to support early detection and reinforce services, and I'm very grateful for the support of Cowra Medical Associates in helping to set up this important addition to our COVID-19 infrastructure," Mr Harvey said.
"While performing vitally important work in its own right, the Respiratory Clinic also provides added comfort for people without respiratory complaints to continue to visit their GP and other health professionals for regular check-ups and other issues, to ensure that small complaints now do not become major health concerns later."
Patients can make a booking by phoning Cowra Medical Associates on 6341 1400 or online at www.hotdoc.com.au (search for Cowra Respiratory Clinic).