PSYCHOTIC patients, such as those under the influence of methamphetamine, will now be treated in a separate emergency department (ED) to general patients at Joondalup Health Campus.
The hospital today opened its $7.1 million Mental Health Observation Area (MHOA), which provides service for emergency patients with psychiatric disorders.
The hospital hopes the 10-bed unit will assist in reducing readmissions and ease waiting times in the main emergency department.
Its aim is to separate general patients from mentally-ill patients who can often cause stress and safety risks for others waiting in the emergency department.
It has been running at the campus for a month, but Tuesday marked its official opening.
Director of medical services Simon Wood said the unit had been at been at “full capacity” in its first few weeks.
“The staff we’ve got working in the MHOA are well-trained experts in their fields – spanning medical, nursing and allied health professionals – who will work collaboratively with patients and their families during this very stressful time,” he said.
“The next step to further improve mental health services for people living in the northern suburbs will be the promised next stage expansion of the hospital which will provide an additional 30 inpatient mental health beds.”
Health Minster Roger Cook was at the hospital for this morning’s opening.
He referred to the fact that about 6 per cent of JHC’s 97,600 emergency admissions in 2017 involved mentally ill patients.
“Some had to wait in the busy emergency department for long periods until a mental health bed became available somewhere in the state,” he said.
“These patients will now receive specialist care in a dedicated custom-built unit, offering a more clinically appropriate environment.”
Joondalup MLA Emily Hamilton highlighted the recent surge in methamphetamine-affected patients attending the emergency department.
“It’s unfortunately the case that the Joondalup ED saw 248 presentations over a three-month period last year of patients that were affected by meth,” she said.
“The MHOA will provide these patients with the care they need in a safer environment away from general accident and emergency patients.”
The unit features:
– four bedrooms with sliding doors;
– six patient bays;
– patient lounge;
– a secure outdoor courtyard; and
– a waiting area.
It was funded by a $5.1 million commitment from the former State Government and $2 million from hospital operator Ramsay Health.
Opposition Health spokesman Sean L’Estrange said the former Government had modelled the facility on “the country’s most successful similar units”.