The public response to the coronavirus pandemic has been unpredictable at times. Supermarkets have been emptied of toilet paper, but fresh fruit and vegetables are still available in an abundance. International travel plans are being scrapped and weddings are being postponed, but some of the Snowy Valley’s most hands-on services haven’t noticed any decline in business.
“It’s business as usual for us,” said Andrianna Benjamin, General Manager for the Tumut Back and Foot Clinic.
“Our practitioners obviously are hands-on with their patients and they’re still doing their jobs, as per usual.”
The clinic has been as busy as ever, with full patient loads and only a handful of cancellations that were quickly rescheduled.
“We are a health practice, so people need us,” said Andrianna. “Obviously we’re here to help the community. We’ve got a policy and procedure manual [for coronavirus prevention] out and it’s gone to all staff in regards to hygiene.”
Since Monday, the clinic has increased its cleaning procedures, with all public areas and surfaces being sterilized every 15 minutes through the day and signage posted throughout the building, warning about signs of COVID-19 and preventative measures.
Stepping up their response, on Tuesday, the clinic’s chairs were rearranged to maintain a 1.5 metre distance between patients. Reception staff have also started rescheduling clients with flu-like symptoms.
Despite the uncertainty about the virus, and the recent pressure from bushfires, Andrianna said numbers have been consistently high. That’s in part due to the strain of the Dunns Road firefight.
“There was a lot of stress on the firefighters and the firefighters’ families,” she said.
“We had a lot of backs out, a lot of people that were preparing their homes, getting up on top of roofs, clearing their gutters, cutting down trees.
“They were putting out their backs all the time or straining muscles and we needed to treat them on a regular basis.”
For now, the clinic’s staying busy, with three chiropractors, three massage therapists, two podiatrists and a physiotherapist taking shifts, Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm.
If the situation with the virus worsens significantly, things will change, but that’s still on the horizon.
“I think if we do get a scare that someone has the virus in the region, I think things will get a little bit edgy there,” said Andrianna.
“Within the next week, I think [business] will start declining. The virus is going to creep up as the days go on. I can understand people canceling events and I think that’s a great idea.
“I’m all for tourism,” said Andrianna, who is also a Snowy Valleys Councillor, “But we can’t really take on people coming from different areas.”
Andrianna said she supported the decisions made by numerous local groups and organisations to cancel public events like the Snowy Valleys Cycle Challenge.
“We just need to be a little bit careful for our communities in SVC.”