Lengthy waiting periods in Emergency will soon cease.
Lengthy waiting periods in Emergency will soon cease.

No long delays in emergency dept

THOSE agonising delays to see a doctor at the Coffs Harbour Base Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department are about to end.

The North Coast Area Health Service has called for tenders for the construction of an ‘Express Community Care Clinic’ to take the pressure off the ED and at the same time better meet the needs of people with chronic but non-urgent conditions.

The even better news for those who have so long complained about lengthy waiting room delays is that the new clinic should be operational by the middle of the year.

The Chief Executive officer of the North Coast Area Health Service, Chris Crawford, is confident the new clinic will achieve a multitude of aims.

“The need to take pressure of emergency departments was highlighted in the Garling Report, and after a two-year trial at the Port Macquarie Base Hospital we believe this new model is the right way to go,” Mr Crawford said.

“The Express Clinic will work as an adjunct to the ED and take pressure off it by diverting category four and five patients who present with conditions that are less likely to be urgent than chronic and ongoing, to some thing that is midway between a GP practice and an ED,” he said.

Mr Crawford say all patients presented to the emergency department will be assessed by a triage nurse and then either sent to the express clinic or ED waiting rooms.

“Many of the express clinic patients will be elderly or have conditions which are best addressed holistically by the development of long-term wellness strategies,” Mr Crawford said.

Mr Crawford said the express clinic will operate between 8.30am and 4pm as a free or bulk billed service.

“Our figures show that 40 per cent of all people presenting to the Coffs Harbour ED during the day are category four and five patients, and typically need things like dressings changed, wounds checked or conditions monitored.

“Many are also suffering from dementia and other aged-related illnesses. For a whole lot of reasons they take a lot of time to be dealt with so the aim of the clinic is to not just take pressure off ED staff, but to get those less urgent patients seen quicker. They will in turn be linked to our ‘Hospital in the Home’ program so they can access community nurse programs and avoid being hospitalised,” he said.

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