COVID-19 test sites in Victoria approaching Stage 4 restrictions: evaluating the relationship between remoteness, travel time and population serviced
journal contributionposted on 14.01.2022, 03:18 by Ali LakhaniAli Lakhani, Dennis WollersheimDennis Wollersheim
Objective: In Australia, people residing remotely typically experience increased travel time to health services, and remote health services often have unfavourable population-to-provider ratios. The state of Victoria was treated as a case study and a spatial analysis investigated the impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) point-of-care-test (POCT) site location (Major City, Inner Regional or Outer Regional) on the mean travel time for closest residents and the number of closest residents. Methods: A network analysis established the travel time from every mesh block in Victoria to the closest POCT site. Inferential analyses investigated the impact of POCT site location on travel time and the number of closest residents. Results: Compared to urban locations, the mean travel time for closest residents to rural POCT sites was significantly higher, while rural POCT sites had significantly fewer residents to service. Conclusions: Findings confirm Australian health service literature suggesting that rural regions have poorer proximate availability of health services, while also contrasting to literature indicating that Australian rural regions have fewer health services per capita. Implications for public health: Localities within outer regional Victoria are candidates for a localised response to reduce unnecessary travel. Employing innovative service models may improve health service access and use and reduce population-to-provider ratios in rural locations.