An ongoing GP shortage and an undersized Emergency Department are set to make things difficult for staff at Wimmera Base Hospital over the Christmas period.
Wimmera Health Care Group CEO Catherine Morley said most people that used the hospital would have decreased medical coverage over the festive season, as not all urgent care centres will have doctors available.
“We will be open, and we will have extra staff on to support community members, but if it's busy there will be a wait,” she said.
“When people are triaged the most urgent get seen first, and if a lot of people want to be seen but are triaged as non-urgent then there will be a wait. We have signs on the walls telling people how long they can expect to wait.”
Ms Morley said upgrading the ED was one of four priorities in the masterplan currently awaiting approval from the DHHS Building Authority. They plan to push for funding from the state government once that happens.
“What we're planning to do is come back to the community and ask for their support to help our region get the resources we deserve. Our community deserves quality help even if there are fewer people here and we're in the safest seat.”
The former CEO of Rural Northwest Health also said the lack of General Practitioners also impacted people’s access to the emergency department.
“Horsham is still recovering from lack of GPs who left in January 2017. We lost six through retirement, and more retired this year.”
Ms Morley is calling on Wimmera residents to do all they can to make sure they don’t have to go to hospital over the break.
“People out in boats are probably our biggest concern at the moment, but also people with chronic disease who could have it exacerbated by drinking more, or not looking after diabetes as tends to happen over Christmas,” she said. “People come in with bad sunburn too.”
“We hope everyone keeps safe we don’t want anyone to come and visit us. If everyone looks after themselves that's a great result.”
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