Anticipation in the Air at Epworth Geelong

May 30, 2016| Epworth News /

Matt Ryan, Director of Emergency Medicine at Epworth Geelong talks about the upcoming opening of Geelong’s new Emergency Department in Waurn Ponds.

How do you anticipate the first day of operation unfolding in the new Emergency Department?

Although there has been enormous preparation and scenario testing, nothing beats the real thing. I think all our clinical staff will feel more comfortable when we are doing what we are trained to do – that is, taking care of sick and injured emergency patients. We’re all looking forward to doing this in a great new facility surrounded by a great team – both of which have been ‘works in progress’ for some time. Day one will be both exciting and a relief, after the building and preparation. For a long time now, Epworth Geelong has been engaging with Ambulance Victoria, local GPs, the medical community and the public in general, so I believe we’ll see patients either transferred or referred from each of these groups. A fair bit of interest has been generated in the hospital and the new Emergency Department.

What sorts of illness or injury do you expect to see at Epworth Emergency Department?

I guess there may be a public perception that Emergency Departments are inherently unpredictable places. This is certainly true minute to minute, but on a day in, day out basis they are in fact, remarkably predictable in the long term. In the early days of our new ED, because it is winter, I imagine we might see respiratory illness particularly at the extremes of age, both the elderly and young children. Common presentations in all EDs are patients with chest pain, abdominal pain or severe headaches. Being a Monday when we open, we may see some workplace injuries, which are also fairly common presentations.

TV depicts some unusual Emergency Department situations – can you describe some of the more memorable ones you’ve experienced?

A key function of every Emergency Department is the ability to see and treat a large number of patients who present simultaneously, with little or no warning. We refer to this as the Emergency Department’s “surge capacity”. It is generally a whole of hospital response (or a whole of region response in major disasters).

I have experienced this at hospitals where I’ve worked previously – in a variety of scenarios ranging from trauma patients injured in a bus crash, to multiple elderly patients from a nursing home with a gastro outbreak, to several patients with influenza-like illness during the swine flu event of June and July 2009. Clinical staff, support staff and hospital systems are generally stretched during these events, but it is during these times that an ED and hospital really pull together as a team. My experience has been that while these events can be stressful, they often leave the ED team stronger and more cohesive as a result.

Epworth Geelong Emergency Department

Epworth Geelong Emergency Department, which has 20 treatment spaces, is located on Pigdons Road just north of Deakin University’s Waurn Ponds campus. Onsite parking is available.

Written by Colleen Coghlan, Media Manager, Epworth HealthCare; photo courtesy Diana Hrasko.



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