The new Emergency Medical Unit (EMU) at Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) was officially opened today (November 19) by Tasmanian Minister for Health Michelle O'Byrne.
Reduced waiting times and improved health outcomes for patients are just two benefits the new $8.7 million unit is expected to bring to Tasmanian health care.
Funded as part of the $325 million Tasmanian Health Assistance Package, the 10 bed unit will provide care for patients requiring between 4 and 24 hours of hospital treatment.
This will create a higher turnover of beds in the emergency room while leaving rooms available for longer admissions in other departments in the hospital.
At the RHHl, there has been a 32 per cent increase in the number of presentations to the emergency department over the past six years, reaching more than 50,000 in 2012-13.
In the first three months of the 2013 financial year, over 900 additional people presented to the emergency department compared to the same time last year.
There is a significant number of patients who arrive in the emergency department who do not require more than 24 hours of care, but do need to stay longer than is recommended within as ED, according to Ms O'Byrne
"The EMU will play an important role in helping to reduce the pressure on the ED and improve patient flow throughout the hospital," she said.
The RHH's EMU will be working closely with local GPs and community nursing programs to ensure patients receive the support they need to improve their health and avoid future hospitalisation.
This goal involves asking admitted patients to complete an assessment called 'How healthy are you?'.
The RHH healthcare professionals would then be given an indication of the patients' risk of developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart problems.
"We will discuss the results with patients, helping them to make healthier lifestyle choices, and also provide the information to their GP," RHH Emergency Department Director Dr Emma Huckerby said.
Patients who do not already have a GP will be linked to a medical practitioner close to their home and encouraged to have regular health checks.
This innovative system will potentially reduce pressure on hospitals in the future by empowering patients to take control of their health risks and make steps to improve their well being, avoiding future reliance on hospital care.
If you would like the option of being treated as a private patient in this new Emergency Medical Unit, you may want to consider your health insurance options.
For more information, contact the team at HICA today.