The RMH’s new $1.2m winter flex ward, 2 West, is now open, helping to take the pressure off the Emergency Department and the wider hospital during the busy winter season.
The specialised ward has the capacity to care for up to 12 patients and is open Monday to Thursday for ten hours until October.
It accommodates patients requiring further tests or consultations to determine whether they should be admitted to wards for further treatment or discharged for ongoing management by a GP.
Associate Professor Lou Irving, Head of Respiratory Medicine at the RMH, said 2 West will help RMH cope with the demands of the flu season, which had an unprecedented impact on the hospital and the Victorian community in 2017.
“In 2017 we had 300 flu-related admissions in a four to five week period,” Associate Professor Irving said.
“This new ward increases our capacity to respond to the demands of winter and allows the rest of the hospital to continue to function as normal.
“It allows us to give patients the specialised care they need to quickly return to the community.”
Associate Professor Irving reminded the community that prevention and preparation are key to managing the flu season.
He said having the flu vaccine, practising good hand hygiene and staying home when unwell are essential to stopping the spread of flu and reducing the burden on hospitals.
In addition to 2 West, Melbourne Health is undertaking a number of other initiatives to meet increased winter demand as part of its Winter Plan. This includes rostering additional staff in the Emergency Department, additional pathology testing capacity for patients who present with flu-like symptoms and expanding our Hospital in the Home (HITH) beds from 30 up to 35 so more patients can receive treatment in the community.