Construction has begun on the expansion of the Sunshine Hospital Emergency Department, one of the busiest in the state. The Department currently treats around 85,000 patients each year. Once completed in mid-2021 it will have the capacity to treat an additional 59,000 patients each year.
Volunteers like Pat Irving are playing a vital role in supporting patients and staff within the Department while the renovations take place.
An experienced senior volunteer, Pat draws on her experience as a training officer to assist patients and their loved ones who are bought into the Emergency Department for treatment.
"We assist Emergency Department staff in many ways; such as chaperoning visitors from the triage area to the patient location to make it easier for them to find their loved ones," said Pat.
"We stay with patients and their families for as long as they need. Just being there can provide comfort if they're looking lost or upset. We also help by getting warm blankets, food, tea, coffee or water for the patients," said Pat.
The expanded Sunshine Emergency Department will feature a dedicated children's emergency triage and treatment section, the first in Victoria to do so, and a separate Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs Crisis Centre. These new areas and facilities will ease pressure on the Department, allowing more people to receive treatment quicker and in areas that are designed for their needs.
To prepare for the changes to the department, staff and volunteers received training in mock scenarios prior to the works starting.
"Like any construction site, things change from time to time. Our managers keep us in the loop so that we're aware of what's going on to help patients and their families," said Pat. "We have an information table maned just inside the Emergency entrance with a dedicated person to help people with directions."
The public Emergency Department entrance and short term parking can be accessed off Majorca Street. Western Health staff and volunteers are available to assist you with directions and to answer any questions.