A drive-through assessment centre for coronavirus (COVID-19) launched today at the Whakatane War Memorial Hall as a collaborative effort between Te Puna Ora O Mataatua & The Eastern Bay Primary Health Alliance, with support from the Bay of Plenty DHB.

The centre has been set up to allow other medical centres, general practices (GPs) and Whakatane Hospital to continue providing health services to the public without the threat of COVID-19 transmission.

People with suspected COVID-19 symptoms will be able to drive directly to the centre to be assessed. “If you have respiratory symptoms, including shortness of breath or a sore throat, or flu-like symptoms you can be assessed at the drive through centre” says Med Central Director Dr Jethro Le Roy. “All assessment will be based from your car to ensure everyone can safely get support and advice without putting others at risk.” 

The centre is open at Whakatane War Memorial Hall, Short Street, on Wednesday 25 March and will be open seven days a week, with open hours likely to change according to community need.

People who use the drive through service will need to drive up to the centre, register their details using the online system, and can then drive up to a triage station to be assessed from their cars. A team of doctors and nurses and support staff will be onsite to help with the process of assessing COVID-19 symptoms, testing, advice and treatment. 

The launch of the centre was not publicised until after the first shift to allow a ‘soft opening’ on the first day, allowing staff to test systems and ensure it works well.

People should ideally seek advice from Healthline 0800 358 5453 or their GP before attending the centre to check whether their symptoms meet the criteria for assessment and will need to arrive in a vehicle as no walk-ins will be accepted. People with symptoms are advised not to use public transport to travel to the centre.

If a person is unable to access a vehicle or has other questions or support needs relating to the virus, they can call Te Puna Ora’s local information line 0800 628 228 and press 9 for the dedicated COVID-19 local support line.