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GP Respiratory Clinics praised for COVID-19 response

Published 22 May 2023

Townsville and Charters Towers facilities delivered thousands of vaccines and assessed more than 15,000 patients


General Practice Respiratory Clinics in Townsville and Charters Towers have been praised for the incredible community service the two facilities delivered to help protect North Queenslanders during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The final operating extension of Australian Government funded GP Respiratory Clinics (GPRCs) has recently ended at all sites across Australia.

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care will now move to implement a new GPRC Panel model for activation during health emergencies.

Townsville GPRC and Charters Towers GPRC (located at Upper Ross Medical Centre and Gold City Medical Centre respectively) have operated since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and delivered thousands of doses of the COVID vaccine and assessed over 15,500 COVID symptomatic patients combined.

Townsville GPRC’s Dr Martin Perez Gonzalez said the clinic had administered 14,590 vaccines and seen 9,490 patients since it first opened in April 2020.

“We have been supporting our local community since the start of COVID-19, doing assessment and testing with our respiratory clinic, and then vaccinating local residents,” said Dr Gonzalez.

“We have been really proud to be able to deliver this for the community, but without the support of our teams, including reception and nurses, we wouldn’t have been able to do it and we appreciate everything that they have contributed.”

Since opening, Charters Towers GPRC has assessed more than 6,100 patients, as well as administering COVID-19 vaccines.

“Our clinic was designed to play a specific role in the pandemic – to give patients with respiratory symptoms a place they could receive care, away from both emergency departments and general practice to avoid the spread,” said Charters Towers GPRC’s Dr Jean Covey.

“We then played a key role in vaccinating the community to further protect them from the virus.

“I think it was a really important clinic for the region with our older, more vulnerable resident population, while our town is also a gateway to the west for grey nomad travellers.

“I’m so proud of the achievements of all our medical and administration staff for the role they played in reducing the spread of COVID-19.”

OROP Covid update Townsville and Charters Towers


NQPHN Chief Executive Officer Robin Whyte said since April 2020, GPRCs had underpinned Australia’s response to COVID-19 and have been a vital element of our Covid response.

“People were advised to go to a GP respiratory clinic rather than place local doctors and staff at risk, and received fast and efficient testing for their symptoms.

“After assessment, treatment and testing, community members were directed back to their usual GP for ongoing care.

“Patients then had the opportunity to return to a more normal way of life with the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine, and again, GPRCs played a key role in the rollout.

“At NQPHN, we have been privileged to support and collaborate with several GPRCs, including GPRCs in the Mackay and Cairns regions, during the COVID-19 pandemic response.

“The Townsville and Charters Towers GPRCs commenced operation in April 2020 and have operated continuously since then. Their staff, including managers, nurses and receptionists, have been nothing short of inspirational.

“On behalf of NQPHN, we would like to say thank you the clinics for the dedication and hard work they have provided to help northern Queenslanders stay safe and live happier, healthier, longer lives during the pandemic.”

Last updated: 31 May 2023