Shoalhaven Hospital emergency department struggles with demand

WAITING GAME: Shoalhaven has experienced a spike in presentations to its emergency department, which has held ambulances delivering patients for treatment.
WAITING GAME: Shoalhaven has experienced a spike in presentations to its emergency department, which has held ambulances delivering patients for treatment.

Ambulances have been kept waiting for longer than two hours as Shoalhaven Hospital experiences a spike in demand.

On Thursday night, there were nine ambulance arrivals and 21 walk-ins in a three-and-half-hour period.

“In particular, we’ve seen a significant rise in the number of patients presenting with life threatening conditions in both triage categories 1 and 2,” said  acting executive director Clinical Operations of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District Suzanne Harris. 

“Whilst there has not been an increase in the number of ambulance presentations, there have been significant periods of close arrivals which can make the timely management of ambulance patients more challenging.” 

These have contributed to longer waiting times.

Ms Harris said the Hospital was working closely with its ambulance colleagues to ensure patients were safe, and transferred to the care of the Emergency Department in a timely manner.

“The Hospital is also constantly looking to implement strategies and other improvements that reduce wait times for all and deliver the highest quality emergency services.

“The ED has recently commenced the trial of a new Rapid Assessment Zone that will better assist ambulances to unload less seriously unwell patients, more quickly,” Ms Harris said.

She said Shoalhaven Hospital would implement its winter bed strategy to deal with increased demand for patients with complex and chronic conditions exacerbated by the season.

The area known as Medical Ward B will also be operational in early June, following a $1.35 million refurbishment to develop the ward into a dedicated Acute Geriatric Unit.