Mothballed $6M kids facility re-opens at Ipswich Hospital

A MOTHBALLED $6 million pediatric emergency room at Ipswich Hospital has re-opened, almost a year after it was closed.

Parents once again have access to 24-hour, seven day a week, purpose built facility catering to children with the hospital Emergency Department.

Queensland's Health Minister Cameron Dick says since the unit re-opened this month, it has been used by almost 40 children each day, clearly demonstrating the demand.

It comes after the existing facility was mothballed by West Moreton Hospital and Health Service's former Chief Executive Sue McKee.

On October 31, the purpose-built $6 million facility including a separate child friendly waiting area, 12 emergency beds, six short stay beds and specialist staff, closed.

Queensland Health was quick to step in after learning the unit had been closed via the QT's front page story on November 8.

That day the Health Department declared the facility - referred to by the Bligh Government as 'high priority' and built in 2014 - would reopen.

Sue McKee suddenly resigned as Chief Executive the following January.  

Ten months after the facility closed, it has been redesigned and reopened, with some changes.

The child-friendly waiting area has been reinstalled, a play area included and four emergency pediatric beds made available.

More staff have also been funded in the redesign, referred to as Clinical Decision Unit, using an additional $5 million added to the health service's budget.

About 20 % of all presentations to the Ipswich Hospital Emergency Department are children; in the 2015-2016 financial year that represents about 16,200 children.

Ipswich Hospital Emergency Department Director Cade Grima said the new facility would operate in conjunction with the existing Emergency Department and other recent initiatives such as the Clinical Decision Unit to improve patient flow and experience.

Ipswich Hospital's Emergency Department Director, Dr Cade Grima.
Ipswich Hospital's Emergency Department Director, Dr Cade Grima. Helen Spelitis

"We know the Emergency Department is not the kind of place a child ordinarily wants to go but for those who require urgent medical attention, we want to make sure we can offer children the most inviting space possible in a clinical environment, as well as top medical care," Dr Grima said.

 "It does not mean we can now accept children presenting with a more-broad scale of health concerns - the emergency paediatric room remains a place to attend in the event of an emergency only.

"As always, we ask the West Moreton community to remember to keep the Emergency Department for emergencies and let us dedicate our resources to the people that need it the most.''

In 2009 the Bligh government announced an expansion of pediatric services at Caboolture, Ipswich, Logan, Redcliffe and Redlands hospitals off the back of the South East Queensland Paediatric Planning Report.

The expansion, which in Ipswich's case was finished as part of the $128 million renovations, was marketed as offering "the best care for your child close to home".

Since the expansion of Logan Hospital, families have had access to a 24-hour specialist paediatric services in the emergency department all year round.

Extract from South East Queensland Paediatric Planning Report
Extract from South East Queensland Paediatric Planning Report


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