Ipswich's first private emergency department in high demand
ABOUT 10,000 people were have been admitted to Ipswich's first private emergency department during its first year of operation.
A $64 million development, which almost doubled the size of St Andrew's Ipswich Private Hospital, was completed in late August last year.
The emergency department was the "flagship" of the project, which also included a new intensive care unit, additional operating theatres and a new women's and children's services ward amongst other upgrades.
In comparison, the Ipswich Hospital's emergency department saw 70,406 people during the 2018-19 financial year , which was a 4.9 per cent increase on the 67,128 people seen the previous year.
Director of emergency medicine Dr Tony Lourensen said it had been an "exhilarating" 12 months, with the department recording 1000 patient presentations for the first time last month.
That growth is only expected to continue.
"We made a rough forecast a couple of months in that we'd see 10,000 for the year which we did plus or minus 100 patients," he said.
"Starting with new staff, new procedures, new doctors, new nurses... we developed everything from scratch.
"We started off slow and it just got busier and busier. We just had our busiest month last month."
Dr Lourensen said the demand for emergency services was "insatiable" but the department was well equipped to handle the expected increase in numbers.
He expected another 15,000 through the doors by this time next year.
The department has six monitored emergency bays, a resuscitation room and provides 24-hour care.
"The capacity is there (for growth), it's just learning new things. Some EDs see 50 patients a day quite happily. We're seeing about 36 a day at the moment."
The third most popular postcode for patient presentation over the past year was 4300, which includes Springfield and surrounding suburbs.
"We're also seeing people from the Lockyer Valley who previously travelled the entire way to Brisbane for private emergency care," Dr Lourensen said.
"It's a relief for them and it's also good for the RAAF Amberley base. Rather than sending their patients to the middle of Brisbane with all that traffic, they've worked out we're here so they're using our services too.
"If you wanted private medicine (in the past) you had to go a long way to get it. I think Ipswich has been neglected for quite some time. The need has been there and we've answered the need.
"Presentations to St Andrew's emergency department incur a doctor gap fee but you don't have to have private insurance to attend the emergency department.
"You only need private hospital insurance for an admission. Approx 38 per cent of people who attend the ED converted to an admission."
Nurse unit manager Julie Wilson said each day was hard to predict with presentations arriving in "surges".
The hospital's website has a real time clock which provides the average wait value measured over the previous hour and the number of presentation waiting for medical review.
On arrival triage assessment allows to prioritise all presenting patients, ensuring that those with the most serious conditions are attended to first.
"We've seen a huge age group. 105-years-old is the oldest we've seen."
"I came over from Western Australia and I have never seen so many healthy people in their late 90s and 100s living at home by themselves in my life," Dr Lourensen said.
"It's quite amazing."