RUTHERGLEN citizens have been left with no doctors to serve them because of the harsh restrictions on crossing the NSW-Victorian border.
Usually the town of nearly 2500 residents has four doctors serving it through the Rutherglen Medical Centre.
However, all those medicos live on the NSW side of the border and also work at the Corowa Medical Centre which administers the Rutherglen clinic.
Practice manager Kristen Mann said the doctors could not work at Rutherglen without self-isolating for 14 days upon returning to NSW because the wine town is outside the border bubble.
"Having spoken to Service NSW and local members it's become clear if any doctors exited the blue zone they would have to self-isolate for 14 days, which is not feasible and that's for going two kilometres into the blue zone to a place with no (COVID-19) infections," Ms Mann said.
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Doctor Michael Love, who's served Corowa and Rutherglen for 28 years, has been left dumbfounded.
"It's not very fair on the people of Rutherglen," Dr Love said.
"We had people sent back at the border yesterday who had legitimate appointments to come here.
"Traditionally Corowa-Rutherglen has been one, we've had a united football team and a united this and that and before Albury-Wodonga had a two-in-one health system Corowa-Rutherglen had a two-in-one health system for 30 years, so it goes back a long way."
The omission of Rutherglen from the blue zone also means severe pain for Indigo North Health which runs an aged care hub in the town.
Chief executive Shane Kirk said he had 27 staff, across the fields of nursing, catering and environmental health, who lived in NSW.
"It's stressing an already stressed aged care workforce; there are people working double shifts which is not healthy in any sense of the word," Mr Kirk said.
He said the medical centre's doctors also visited the aged care home for consultations.
Asked what he would do to remedy the situation, Mr Kirk said: "Honestly I don't know. I'm not like a hospital, I can't say 'I can't accept patients' I've got 40 residents who need 24/7 care."
Since the blue zone began on Wednesday, Ms Mann said telehealth had been provided for clients but she noted there was a 20 per cent cancellation rate and she expected that to increase.
Efforts to source locum doctors are being made.
Rutherglen resident Peter Slater said the town needed an in-person service.
"I think it's absolutely critical we have a face-to-face doctor here," Mr Slater said.
"Particularly for elderly people, not everybody is good at explaining things over the phone.
"I'm not a big fan of telehealth anyway, I think they need to see you face to face to explain things and ask the appropriate questions."
Dr Love said the situation also meant Wangaratta orthopaedic surgeon Michael Falkenberg could no longer come each week to Corowa to undertake operations or consultations.
Member for Albury Justin Clancy said he was seeking to have the border public health order changed so that self-isolation rules were eased for medicos in cases like Corowa-Rutherglen's.