Emergency department revival

INJECTING LEADERSHIP: Mount Gambier Hospital emergency department director Dr Umair Qazi has started his position in the public health facility
INJECTING LEADERSHIP: Mount Gambier Hospital emergency department director Dr Umair Qazi has started his position in the public health facility

MOUNT Gambier Hospital has made “major inroads” into improving patient flow through its emergency department and boosting its medical workforce.

This is the message from the hospital’s executives more than 18 months since the sweeping probe into its troubled emergency department.

While some of the recommendations remain a “work in progress”, the hospital has secured a new “resident” emergency department director.

New figures show the emergency department – which attracts around 20,000 people through its doors each year – has seen a marked increase in its performance.

Statistics released yesterday show the number of patients being seen on time in their “triage category” has climbed from 78pc to nearly 90pc.

The hospital is also now looking at what can be streamlined to further boost these figures.

Country Health SA acting South East regional director Ngaire Buchanan said the hospital had made major “inroads” not just in connection with the review, but other new initiatives.

She said additional nurses and senior doctors had been employed in the emergency department and the wards, as well as three medical physician roles being filled.

“We are also up to scratch with the nurses’ enterprise bargaining conditions,” she said.

“I am really pleased with the progress. I would be very confident if I was a patient coming into this hospital.”

She said plans were already under way to use the department as a training ground for emergency medicine.

The hospital executive foreshadowed fostering partnerships with metropolitan hospitals so Mount Gambier could become a “teaching hospital”, which was one of the 22 recommendations handed down in the review.

Ms Buchanan said securing a resident emergency department director was a major step towards that goal.

She said the hospital wanted to cement a permanent staff workforce and not be reliant on locums flying in and out of Mount Gambier.

But the hospital continues to struggle in terms of recruiting an emergency medicine specialist to fill an ongoing vacancy.

“We do advertise in an environment which is quite challenging, it is not just Mount Gambier,” Ms Buchanan said.

The establishment of a training environment within the emergency department is expected to help attract senior doctors to Mount Gambier.

“Once they come here, they see what our hospital is like and they might want to work here,” Ms Buchanan said.

It is understood Mount Gambier has never secured a resident FACEM (ED specialist) and had been reliant on a locums roster.

Emergency department director Dr Umair Qazi said he was thrilled to move to Mount Gambier to take up the prominent medical position.

He comes to the position well credentialed with experience as an emergency department consultant, as well as working in both metropolitan and regional hospitals.

Hitting the ground running, Dr Qazi already has a number of plans to boost the emergency department.

“It is a very busy emergency department in Mount Gambier, but we are going to try to do new things in terms of training, staff and bringing in and retaining doctors,” Dr Qazi said.

“There are a lot of positive challenges, which I would be very keen to do as a doctor for this department and for the community.

“This is a beautiful hospital, the ED is amazing and is one of the best emergency departments I have seen. It has fully equipped resuscitation rooms.”

Dr Qazi said he wanted to see training undertaken in the emergency department.

“Things are starting slowly to move, but my main challenge will get fellowship training here so we can work as a full flight training hospital in here.”

He hoped Adelaide metropolitan hospitals could provide staff for training purposes.

“This is a big community and our numbers are increasing every day. A future vision will be self-reliance because we have the infrastructure as well as medical and surgical specialities here,” Dr Qazi said.

He said he wanted to minimise medical transfers to Adelaide.