St Vincent’s Hospital Rheumatology services during the COVID-19 pandemic
During this time, our priority will be dealing with existing patients who are on disease-modifying immunosuppressive medications. Appointments will generally be conducted via Telehealth.
New referrals will be triaged according to urgency, predominantly acute inflammatory conditions that need urgent care. For new referrals: the referring doctor (not patient) should send the referral for triaging. Routine referrals will be on hold until after the pandemic response.
General advice for patients on disease-modifying drugs during the pandemic:
- Recommend Flu vaccine in April
- Recommend continue stretches and exercises whilst self-isolating at home
- Patients on disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and biologic therapy- do not stop or alter treatment plan unless patient becomes febrile or short of breath
- If patient becomes febrile (temperature greater than 37.5 degrees) or develop respiratory symptoms, they should present to their nearest testing facility, preferably wearing a mask.
- St Vincent's Public Hospital is operating a COVID-19 Assessment Clinic at:
East Sydney Community and Arts Centre
34 Burton St
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
9am-4pm, 7 days
The locations of other NSW Health testing clinics can be found at:
https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus-clinics.aspxIf your patient is tested please ask them notify Dr Laila Girgis or our Advanced Trainee Dr Logan Gardner in order to discuss their medication plan. Medication changes will be advised on a case by case basis, depending on the clinical features.
There are global shortages of Plaquenil (Hydroxychloroquine) at this time. If this is your patient’s routine medication for lupus or rheumatoid, and if they run out of medication, they may need an alternative drug. The Australian Rheumatology Association is working with regulatory authorities and Sanofi on this issue.
The St Vincent’s Clinic Department of Rheumatology provides a full range of diagnostic and management services.
The Rheumatology Department at St Vincent’s Public Hospital includes highly trained specialists who meet the challenges in diagnosis and management of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMD). In addition to providing clinical service they are also engaged in teaching and research in some of the rheumatic disorders and therapeutic clinical trials.
St Vincent's Rheumatology works closely with many departments at the Public Hospital, including the Orthopaedic and other surgical departments, the Cardiology and Respiratory Departments for patients with pulmonary hypertension, and interstitial lung disease, the Gastroenterology and Dermatology departments for shared care of patients on biologic treatments and generally receiving referrals from within the Hospital as well as the Emergency department. Outside referrals come from our local area as well as from a wider catchment in the state due to tertiary referrals.
Additionally, St Vincent's Public Hospital works closely with the St Vincent's Private Hospital at our shared Darlinghurst Campus.
The Rheumatology Department over the years has conducted clinical trials of new therapies in rheumatoid arthritis and in gout with collaboration of Prof Ric Day , St Vincent's Director of Clinical Pharmacology.
Dr Laila Girgis: Senior Staff Specialist and Department Lead
Prof Milton Cohen: Honorary VMO Pain Clinic
Dr Helen Englert: VMO Scleroderma Assessment Clinic
Dr Christopher Browne (Honorary Medical Officer)
Dr Tony Sammel: Clinical Fellowship in Vascular Medicine
For referrals to the Rheumatology Outpatients’ Clinic at St Vincent’s Public Hospital, please address your referral to:
Dr Laila Girgis
Rheumatology Clinic, General Ambulatory Care, Lv 3 Outpatients Department
St Vincent's Public Hospital
390 Victoria St
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Please send the referral by fax: 02 8382 3111 or by post.
All referrals will be triaged for urgency.