IN a move designed to help reduce waiting times, Mildura Base Public Hospital has just installed a new patient information clock at the entrance to the Emergency Department (ED).

The clock displays the status of the wait times for non-life threatening presentations.

With an average of more than 100 presentations to the ED daily, the clock will indicate three levels of case loads: ‘Normal’, ‘Busy’ and ‘Extremely Busy’ and also display the estimated waiting time for patients.

Mildura Base Public Hospital CEO, Terry Welch said that the installation of the ED clock was another indication of the hospital’s focus during the past twelve months to reconnect with the community.

“To me this is a really transparent way of saying to people, ‘This is how busy the Emergency Department is’,” he said.

“We have 33,000 people through here a year and we are one of the busiest emergency departments for our size in the state.

“By installing the clock at the entrance to the ED it allows people to make decisions. You drive in and you can see how busy it is and you are then able to make some assessments. ‘Do I come here?; do I go to a GP?, or go and see a pharmacist that has a nurse?, or do I use ‘nurse on call’ online?’ It enables people to easily make those decisions as the clock displays live data reflecting what is happening in the department right now.”

Mr Welch was referencing the display that was showing at 8.30am on Tuesday, that indicated that the department had just entered the fringe of being ‘busy’ with a wait time ranging from 37 to 55 minutes.

“What we will say, is that if you have an urgent need for treatment − if you’re having a heart attack for example, that time is completely irrelevant,” Mr Welch said.

“If you are a high-level emergency case we get you in and treat you immediately. This is more for the general presentations and for those people who may wait a few hours and this helps them understand why.

“We do sometimes see waits of four to five hours or more and people do get frustrated and so I think we have to continue to do a better job of keeping people informed about that and this is a key way of doing that.

“It is a credit to our clinical team for getting this together and now the community can embrace what it aims to do and what it is about which is enabling them to make easy decisions.”

MBPH executive director of clinical operations, Elise Elder said that the introduction of the ED clock was a great way for the hospital to communicate with the community.

“It is people making informed decision about non-urgent treatment times and how they want to use health services in our community,” she said.

“Our doors are always open for emergencies and for non-urgent, but this is really about the non-urgent presentations and people making informed decisions about whether or not they would like to wait or see a GP tomorrow or call nurse on call or visit some of our nursing services in the community versus waiting in the Emergency Department.”

BELOW: Hospital executive director of clinical operations Elise Elder and hospital CEO Terry Welch with the newly installed clock.