Calls have been made to secure the first significant upgrade to the emergency department (ED) at the Murray Bridge Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital for more than three decades.
State Minister for Health Jack Snelling met with key stakeholders at the hospital on March 21 to consider commissioning a business case to redevelop the aging department.
Murray Bridge Mayor Brenton Lewis said the ED had been performing under “difficult circumstances” for many years.
“The staff do a brilliant job but it is unfair and unreasonable for doctors, nurses and patients to work with an outdated ED,” he said.
“Our ED is at the forefront of a range of issues from acute illness to addiction to mental health issues and it is not a practical and workable place at the moment.”
Mr Lewis said the upgrade was long overdue.
“The local doctors group approached us (council) for support for the upgrade and we willingly took responsibility to help the key stakeholders achieve it,” he said.
“A guide figure was set at $3 million as the predicted costing.”
As the town continues to boom, so does the need to improve the ED.
“Murray Bridge is growing at two per cent per annum and we need to accommodate for this,” he said.
He said Mr Snelling saw the “obvious needs” for an upgrade when he visited the ED first-hand.
“He came willingly and quickly and I’m confident the Minister will give this due consideration,” he said.
Mr Lewis said there were no logical funds council could access to facilitate an upgrade and it needed to be escalated higher.
And that is where the Minister comes in.
If Mr Snelling chose to go ahead with a business plan, the project would be facilitated through SA Country Health.
In a statement, Acting Regional Director Riverland Mallee Coorong region Tanya Lehmann said a feasibility study would consider the options available.
“We have identified the need to upgrade the Emergency Department at Murray Bridge Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital,” she said.
Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick vowed to push the proposal on all angles politically.
He said there were issues around privacy and access to rooms within the current ED.
“Occasionally you get violent people who need extra room that the ED just doesn’t have and it needs to be more patient friendly,” he said.
“Murray Bridge is booming, plus the hospital services the whole district, so a lot of people rely on it.”
“The ball is now in the Minister’s court.”