THE first patients to use Hervey Bay Hospital's new emergency department will walk through the $44.66 million facility's doors next week.

The state-of-the-art ED occupies the ground floor of the recently finished three-storey building with 46 treatment spaces which more than double the current number.

A Clinical Decisions Unit on the first and second floors has education and training facilities to also double the size of the current equivalent.

New emergency department at Hervey Bay Hospital - Dr. David Johnson (staff specialist) with (L) Bernadette Schmidt (Nurse Unit Mgr), Peta Jamieson (Board Chair) and Peter Heath (Director Infrastructure & Assets) in the main waiting room.
New emergency department at Hervey Bay Hospital - Dr. David Johnson (staff specialist) with (L) Bernadette Schmidt (Nurse Unit Mgr), Peta Jamieson (Board Chair) and Peter Heath (Director Infrastructure & Assets) in the main waiting room. Alistair Brightman

Initial plans to upgrade the local ED began about four years ago to reach today's product.

It includes 37 emergency bays, three isolation rooms, a safe assessment room and five procedure rooms.

From 7am on Thursday, those presenting to ED will be ushered through a new triage system designed to streamline the flow and efficiency of patient care.

 

Staff specialist and co-director of emergency medical training David Johnson explained the larger treatment spaces were a much-needed upgrade to their 20-year-old predecessors.

While there are currently no plans to employ more doctors and nursing staff, Mr Johnson said the empty top floor of the building provided the opportunity to expand facilities and staff numbers in the future.

"Our aim is to do as much junior doctor training we can in the region and provide an integrated pathway with the medical school across the road," Mr Johnson said.

New emergency department at Hervey Bay Hospital - Dr. David Johnson (staff specialist).
Staff specialist Dr David Johnson Alistair Brightman

"We advise people not to go to ED with problems that could be better managed by a GP.

"We are still going to have the same number of staff and the same number of beds in the hospital.

"We are still going to have to work hard to meet all of the time targets."

Wide Bay Hospital and Health board chair Peta Jamieson said the board was aware the long-standing capacity challenges at Hervey Bay would increase.

"It was vital to provide a new facility for patients as well as for staff who have been working incredibly hard to meet the needs of their community in a challenging environment," she said.

New emergency department at Hervey Bay Hospital - Peta Jamieson (Board Chair).
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service board chair Peta Jamieson Alistair Brightman

"This in turn aids our recruitment and retention, meaning we're better able to have a sustainable workforce providing high-quality continuity of care for our community."

Acting Health and Ambulance Services Minister Mark Bailey said the expanded state-funded building would be able to handle the predicted 29 per cent growth in patient demand in a decade's time.

"The project has also led to the creation of about 170 construction jobs, which is great news for the local economy," he said.