Safer space for Warrnambool Base Hospital staff and patients

South West Healthcare emergency services director Jo Brown, alcohol and drug emergency department project facilitator Cathreena Gervis and acting nurse unit manager Julie Dawson, where the emergency department will be renovated to hold a behavioural assessment room. Picture: Rob Gunstone

South West Healthcare emergency services director Jo Brown, alcohol and drug emergency department project facilitator Cathreena Gervis and acting nurse unit manager Julie Dawson, where the emergency department will be renovated to hold a behavioural assessment room. Picture: Rob Gunstone

An increase in violent and aggressive patients will be tackled through a $350,000 upgrade at Warrnambool Base Hospital’s emergency department.

A state government grant will be used to redesign and build an area dedicated to safely treating people with behavioural issues, such as aggression, and to fund extra security personnel.

Reports of violence and aggression towards staff have increased by 23.4 per cent in the past two years, hospital data shows

South West Healthcare emergency services director Jo Brown said staff safety was an issue, and people with challenging behaviour presented most days.

“We see angry people fairly often,” Ms Brown said. “We see some people who have mental health issues who don’t want to wait in the emergency department ... we see people who have drug and alcohol issues who are not in touch with reality ... and we see elderly medical patients who have delirium and they can be in a different space and not so responsible for their actions.”

Ms Brown said the department did not have an appropriate area to treat people with behavioural issues who needed close monitoring.

Each year, about 24,500 present to the emergency department.

The upgrade is part of a state government campaign to prevent violence against healthcare workers, with up to 95 per cent estimated to have experienced physical or verbal attacks at work. Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the workers deserved to be safe and respected.

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