Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Leigh McJames has guaranteed a $30 million upgrade of the Albury emergency department will improve the treatment of mental health patients.
Patients experiencing a mental health episode can spend hours waiting to be admitted in the emergency department, in full public view, Mr McJames was told at the Friends of Nolan House and Albury Hospital Auxiliary AGM.
“I’m acutely aware of that … at the moment in the Albury ED there’s nowhere you can triage patients so there’s an element of privacy,” he said.
“We are bidding this year for safe rooms and with safe rooms comes that level of confidentiality … I’m pretty confident we will get funding for that.
“I will guarantee you that proper and effective facilities for handling mental health patients will be a part of that ($30 million) project.”
Mr McJames said mental health had not been given “the attention it deserves” in recent years and he was focused on making it a further priority.
“We’re bidding for a range of OHS needs; safe rooms, enhanced duress systems, and important supporting capabilities,” he said.
”My aim is to fully integrate it into the service.”
Mr McJames said his long-term aim would be to consolidate community mental health centres “spread all over” the AWH catchment.
“We have two community care units; one in the willows in Beechworth and one in Wodonga,” he said.
“It would be far more efficient if they were together, not only for the point of view for efficiency, but for staff.”
The Wangaratta Kerferd Unit is also in line for upgrades to the value of $600,000 and the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service in Wodonga will receive $500,000.