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Years Of Planning For Waikato Hospital's New Emergency Department

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Years Of Planning For Waikato Hospital's New Emergency Department

After years of planning, preparation and anticipation, Waikato Hospital moves into its new Emergency Department (ED) on Tuesday.

The move will start at 5am, with patients treated in the new facility from 8am.

ED clinical director John Bonning said the move was a long-awaited one.

"We are looking forward to continuing to offer excellent emergency care to the ill and injured of all ages in a much more appropriate environment," said Dr Bonning.

ED clinical nurse manager, Mary-Anne Spence said it was especially exciting for staff as they move into a purpose-built facility with state-of-the-art technology.

"It's hugely fantastic for staff morale," she said.

"We'll have more space, better technology and all the tools that we need to provide specialised emergency care.

"After we've made-do in the old department for so many years, this is a real treat for us."

A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes in the old emergency department reviewing and improving processes in readiness for the move.

It is understood Waikato Hospital's old emergency department is the first in the world to go through a programme called Productive Wards.

This focuses on improving ward processes and environments to help nurses and therapists spend more time on patient care thereby improving safety and efficiency. (

Nurse manager Jenni Yeates paid tribute to staff who have worked tirelessly for months.

"The ongoing commitment of our own staff to this new build has been amazing. They have dedicated hours and hours of their own time to make sure we have it right for opening day.

"One particular staff nurse Maria Baxendine has been involved from the start and has a unique talent for thinking about what should go where. She knows every inch of the old department and the new one, she even took it upon herself to tour other emergency departments around the country in her own time to look at what equipment they had and the process changes implemented," said Ms Yeates.

"Many other staff have been involved especially in the work done around productive ED making sure we are getting the best use of staff time and the space we are working in and it's great to see the team get behind the new department and help us to deliver the right care in the right place with the right tools which helps us achieve the health targets set by the ministry.

"It's all about better, sooner more convenient care for our patients. I can't thank them enough," she said.

Located just next door to the current department, the facility is easy to find and patients will see a huge improvement in the facilities with enhanced security and privacy features.

But Health Waikato chief operating officer Jan Adams wants to send a clear message that the emergency department is still for emergencies only. Newspaper advertising and posters around the Waiora Waikato campus in Hamilton have made that clear to the public.

"We understand that there will be people who want to see the new department, but it is in an incredibly busy place and we have no time for rubberneckers.

"We are here to provide care in an emergency, people should continue to utilise their GP for treatment if their situation is not an emergency," she said.

This includes coughs, colds, viral illnesses or a general unwell feeling, she said.

Mrs Adams said Healthline is also available 24 hours a day for free and confidential advice on 0800 611 116.

The move into Waikato Hospital's new ED will start at 5am on Tuesday, with cubicles in the old department closed as they become free and equipment moved over.

Two teams of medical, clerical and nursing staff will be in the old and new departments.

The hospital's Transit Lounge is opening earlier at 7.30am to assist the ED and wards with discharging patients as early and quickly as possible.

The move comes after months of migration planning, said Ms Spence.

"We like to think we've planned for every scenario and every possibility to ensure we can continue to deliver an emergency service while we move, but this is the Emergency Department, and it can be very unpredictable."

ED staff have undergone extensive orientation in the department over the last two weeks to learn their way around their new work environment and be trained on the computers on wheels, or COWS, and a new wireless communication system.

Daisy, Mooloo, Tinkerbell and Jasmine are four COWS for the department that will allow more efficient care at the bedside.

"Staff will be able to move these COWS to the patient's bedside for registration and to review results whereas previously they would have to walk away to a desktop," Ms Spence said.

The vocera communication system, replacing an old PA system, sees all ED staff on duty equipped with a wireless badge/phone that connects them with all other staff on the floor.

Staff log-in to their device through voice recognition technology, can then ask to "call" either individual staff members or groups, by name or profession.

If a staff member is unavailable at the time, a message can be left asking them to call back, or their location in the department detected through the device.

The new Emergency Department is part of Waikato DHB's $252 million Building Programme.

The ED is one level of the $48 million three-level Acute Services Building.

Construction began in early 2009 and will be complete in July when the two levels above ED open, with 101 beds for medical and respiratory patients.

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