Nurses say need for ED / ICU refurbishment now urgent

Caption: ED / ICU Nurse Unit Manager, Kathy Ross and Associate Nurse Unit Manager, Rowena Farquharson in one of the treatment spaces set up in a corridor in the Hamilton Base Hospital Emergency Department

With 55 years nursing experience between them, ED / ICU Nurse Unit Manager, Kathy Ross and Associate Nurse Unit Manager, Rowena Farquharson have lived and breathed Hamilton Base Hospital for decades.

They understand its wards better than anyone and both say that a hospital upgrade is now critical to support nursing and medical staff to deliver high quality care and services to the Southern Grampians community.
Since 2012, Western District Health Service (WDHS) has appealed to successive Victorian Government’s for a $29million refurbishment of its Emergency, Intensive Care and Radiology Departments.
Mrs Ross says for nurses and medical staff working in these areas, the need is becoming critical.
“We’ve got major issues with overcrowding, both due to an increase in the number of staff rostered in ED, as well as more and more patients with higher care needs.
On a daily basis we are finding that we are having to move ED patients into overflow areas in ICU and other wards, because we just don’t have the beds to accommodate them.
The storage situation is also hugely challenging and we are constantly shifting equipment and medical supplies to make way for patients and procedures.
It’s just not good enough, and the need is becoming more and more urgent,” Mrs Ross said.
Mrs Farquharson, who has been nursing at the hospital for over twenty years, says very little has changed in terms of the layout in ED and ICU since she began her nursing career at the hospital.
Despite changes in models of care and an increase in admissions and the acuity of patients, from an infrastructure perspective, there has been no investment and nothing much has changed.
“We are trying to cope in an outdated building, with a dysfunctional layout, which just isn’t meeting staff or patient needs. We have essentially outgrown it.
She says one of the major concerns for staff is around patient privacy and supporting the number of people presenting with mental illness.
“We do our best, but with patients receiving treatment in cubicles and admitted in corridors, it is really difficult.
In recent years, we have also seen a substantial increase in presentations for mental illness. What we need is a dedicated, purpose built area for treating people with mental health issues, so we can ensure they receive the support and care they need.
Mrs Ross says it’s testimony to the work of the wonderful medical and nursing team that recent patient satisfaction results came in at 94.6% for Emergency care, compared to a state average of 91%.
“I am so proud of our incredible team, who work so hard to achieve great outcomes for patients in ED and ICU each and every day.
But we really need the Victorian Government to deliver on this project. It’s so important from a patient safety perspective and will ensure we can support staff to provide excellent care for our community into the future,” Mrs Ross said.

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