Published: 13:41, 02 April 2020
| Updated: 14:59, 02 April 2020
A large drive-thru centre for treating potential coronavirus patients is set to open within days.
Pictures show the scale of the facility, which is being constructed at Estuary View Medical Centre in Whitstable.
The drive-thru will have the capacity to see and treat up to 100 patients a day - but this could increase.
Dr John Ribchester, senior and executive partner at Whitstable Medical Practice, told KentOnline: "The challenge for every town is to make a hot site.
“Some towns will be using existing buildings but we have chosen to externalise it to separate people who are likely to have Covid-19 and people who are unlikely to.
“This is to reduce the chance of cross infection.”
He explained the drive-thru is not a “pitch up-and-be-seen facility”. Patients are asked to phone NHS 111 or their general practice to book an appointment.
There are four categories of patients potentially with Covid-19:
1. Those who aren’t badly affected who are asked to self isolate.
2a. Patients who need a home visit from a team wearing personal protection equipment.
2b. Patients who are ill enough to need a face-to-face consultation but well enough to travel who will be invited to come along to the drive-thru facility.
3. Patients who are so severely ill they need to go to hospital for oxygen and/or ventilation.
Dr Ribchester explained how the centre will work.
“You’ll be met by two small portacabins like the ones you pass through when you cross the Channel Tunnel - they’re check-in booths really," he said.
“Assuming you have an appointment, you then proceed to the area which will be covered in sheeting and scaffolding. There will be four lanes and people will be seen in their cars.
“If they need to be looked at they go to one of the portacabins and are seen in a - quite frankly - fairly sparse room. They will be examined and then the room will be decontaminated.”
When the facility opens will depend on supplies - but Dr Ribchester says it should be on Monday or Tuesday next week.
“We have been frantically busy this week - it is not as simple as plonking a building down like Lego,” he added.
The number of staff will flex with demand - but to start with there will be two teams of four. Each team will have one GP and three other clinicians.
There will be volunteers doing traffic marshalling and there will be receptionists in check-in booths.
This comes after the news surgeries are changing the way they operate to cope with the growing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
There will be a two-tier system of sites at surgeries.
These will be either "hot sites" - facilities to assess and treat possible Covid-19 patients - or "cold sites" for those who don't have any symptoms of the virus, nor do any members of their household.
More by this authorBrad Harper