Since the government has initiated the alert level 3 (and then 4) for combating COVID 19 the home visit phlebotomy service has been overwhelmed with phone calls and bookings for patients in voluntary isolation and isolation based on contact or travel status.
Please ensure this service is only used for its intended purpose which is to provide testing for patients who are unable to come in to a collection centre and where testing is clinically urgent.
Please defer any request for testing that is not immediately urgent in both isolated patients and the normal community population.
For patients who have been asked to self-isolate based on their travel history or contact with suspected or confirmed cases we may provide this service if urgently required. Please ensure this is made clear at booking as our staff will be required to wear PPE gear. Please note this is a phlebotomy service only and swabs for COVID- 19 are not performed by Wellington SCL (the home visit team or collection centres).
All house call referrals will be discussed with a pathologist before being approved.
We will also be screening the repeat requests to ensure they are absolutely necessary as many nursing homes are in lock down and contact with our phlebotomy staff may pose an additional risk at this time.
Prior bookings will be reviewed. Please be aware these may have to be referred back to ensure they are necessary.
Each referrer will have to decide for themselves how best to advise their patients who are vulnerable but do not meet criteria for a home visit.
We appreciate your understanding at this time.
COLLECTION CENTRE CLOSURES
Having reviewed the availability of our phlebotomy workforce, Wellington SCL is closing its smaller collection centres until further notice. This decision is made on the basis of our inability to maintain safe staffing levels. As such we can redeploy staff from smaller centres which are closed to nearby larger centres, to allow us to maximise our capability to provide a service and manage patients safely.
We regret the inconvenience to those who will attend a collection centre that has closed and would appreciate your assistance in informing your patients.
The Wellington SCL website has been updated Collection Centre Status and opening hours as at 24 March 2020 are given here .
We wish to remind you of the key messages with COVID testing:
Testing should only be performed on those who meet the case definition, including being symptomatic. Clinical details on the request form are mandatory, indicating symptoms and including travel history or exposure to confirmed or suspect case.
Patients who are admitted to Hospital will have priority testing – this must be clearly articulated on the request form.
A single nasopharyngeal swab is required.
Double bagging of the swab, with the request form in the outside pocket
All other non-essential viral testing should be deferred, to allow the team to focus currently on COVID-19 capacity
REDUCTION IN NON-ESSENTIAL LABORATORY
Hospital and community laboratories nationwide need to reduce non-essential testing in order to conserve reagents, cope with staff shortages, and mobilise the workforce for COVID-19.
We are mindful of keeping our staff well, particularly our frontline phlebotomists.
We ask all clinicians to immediately reconsider, or reduce the frequency of laboratory tests that are non-essential, discretionary, routine, or could be delayed.