ALBURY hospital's already stretched to the limit emergency department has been the recipient of a bigger than expected financial windfall from the NSW Government.
The unit will aim to double its present capacity after a $30 million funding injection announced in the state budget on Tuesday.
Hospital chiefs conceded they would have been satisfied with $10 million to upgrade the department built more than two decades ago.
An initial $2 million will be allocated in the upcoming financial year for detailed planning work before the balance of the funding will be used on the biggest capital project on the site since the recently completed $60 million Albury-Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre.
"We will squeeze every little bit of it out as much as we can," AWH chief executive Leigh McJames said.
"It will make a quantum leap in terms of the service we can provide. We will scope this to get the maximum benefit and future proof it as much as we can."
Mr McJames anticipated a two-year construction period which would build on the existing 12 beds, two resuscitation bays and four short stay beds.
He said the doubling the department's capacity was a "minimum expectation" given the region's predicted population growth.
"Albury-Wodonga is a growth area and our region has a high growth rate so we will be looking to ensure we can meet capacity across the next decade," he said.
"I would have been happy with $10 million, but to get $30 million I'm ecstatic."
According to its annual report, AWH triaged 62,292 emergency presentations in 2015-16.
The Albury emergency department alone has had 750 more presentations this year compared to the same time last year.
Previous planning had the emergency department expanding towards the carpark, but another level could be added to the existing facility.
The final layout will be guided by architects.
The emergency department presently has 85 staff including 49 full-time equivalent nurses, five full-time doctors and 10 registrars.
Emergency department director Dr Gus Kigotho said the present layout was a challenge for staff.
"This funding is going to improve capacity and capability of our department so that we are able to provide better, safer care," he said.