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SESLHD responds after Sutherland COVID-19 drive-through testing clinic turns people away

Testing times: The Sutherland COVID-19 drive-through testing clinic was so popular it was turning people away this week. Picture: John Veage
Testing times: The Sutherland COVID-19 drive-through testing clinic was so popular it was turning people away this week. Picture: John Veage

Updated

The South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD) has urged those wishing to have a COVID-19 test to contact their local GP or find another service if a new drive-through clinic at Sutherland reaches capacity.

The call comes after the Leader reported on Friday that a man who sought to get his daughter tested was turned away twice in two days after the clinic reached capacity. One of those times was within half an hour of the clinic opening for the day.

A SESLHD spokeswoman said the public response to the Sutherland drive-through testing clinic had been fantastic, with close to 400 people tested in the first four days of operation.

"Wait times are largely affected by the number of occupants in each vehicle seeking testing and at times, challenging presentations in each car, such as children," she said.

"If the queue exceeds the car park capacity, the clinic understandably has to suspend new cars joining it in order to avoid blocking traffic around the site."

She suggested that in this event, people instead visit one of the other NSW Health run COVID-19/Flu Assessment Clinics, including the one at Sutherland Hospital.

"If the drive-through is busy, people can also contact their local GP or additional testing services can be found via the Eastern Primary Health Network website."

To visit the website click here.

EARLIER

A new drive-through coronavirus testing clinic at Sutherland proved to be so popular, it was turning people away within half an hour of opening today.

The clinic, which only opened on Tuesday, conducted 200 tests in the first two days of operation.

But a Sutherland Shire man who attempted to take his daughter for testing twice in the past two days said he was turned away both times.

The man said he arrived at the Sutherland drive-through testing clinic at about 3.35pm on Thursday and tried to join a queue behind other cars in Belmont Street, Sutherland.

However, he said he was approached by a staff member who told him only those people in the cars ahead of him would be seen before the clinic closed at 4pm, and suggested he come back the next day.

"I said my daughter is sick, she has a fever and a sore throat and she is just a kid, can you please squeeze me in. But they said the health workers had a big day and I would have to come back tomorrow," he said.

The man said he returned with his sick daughter at 9.30am today - half an hour after the clinic opened - but was told the queue was at capacity and he would have to come back later.

The man said he told staff he had been advised to return today with his daughter, who was still unwell.

The man said he chose to take his daughter to the drive-through clinic as opposed to the one at Sutherland Hospital because he thought it would be a better environment for a child.

However, after being turned away from the drive-through clinic for a second time, he decided to take his daughter to the Sutherland Hospital clinic on Friday morning and had nothing but praise for its staff and procedures.

"My daughter didn't want to go to the hospital. She was pretty upset when we walked into the clinic and she saw everyone with masks on. It is pretty overwhelming for a child, but the staff were really professional," he said.

"We were in and out in about one hour and the whole thing was handled really well.

"They were very understanding with her being a child and being a bit upset.

"The process was very well-organised and the staff were very professional and worked through the people who were waiting very efficiently.

"They took all the necessary precautions."

The Leader asked both NSW Health and South Eastern Local Health District to comment, and requested updated testing figures for both the drive-through clinic and those located at Sutherland and St George hospitals.

The Sutherland drive-through clinic is at Sutherland Multi-Purpose Community Centre, but entry is from Belmont Street, Sutherland. It is open 9am-4pm, Monday to Friday.

NSW Health is operating testing clinics at Sutherland Hospital, St George Hospital and Hurstville Community Health Care. Hours of operation vary from clinic to clinic.

For a full list of clinics and their hours of operation click here.