Opening of HDU an Important Moment for the Hospital and the Community

Tambo Ward Nurse Katie Clark in the new High Dependency Unit. Photo: Jake Lynch/BRHS


It was a long time coming. But we believe it was worth the wait.

Although it has been operational for a few months already, the official opening of the first ever High Dependency Unit (HDU) at BRHS yesterday gave us all a chance to thank those people that made it possible, and to celebrate an important moment for the hospital and the community.

The HDU gives the hospital the ability to provide high quality care to certain patients that would have previously needed to be transferred to larger hospitals elsewhere in the state.

The three-bed HDU, part of the Tambo Ward that was recently upgraded thanks to an investment from the Victorian Government’s Regional Health Infrastructure Fund, is fitted with state-of-the art equipment to provide care for patients who need high level monitoring and management of their condition, including invasive blood pressure and cardiac monitoring.

“When we have to transport someone for treatment, it means we have to separate them from their family and friends and from the support networks they rely on.” – Nurse Unit Manager Sue Hutton.

The HDU is monitored 24/7 by medical staff and specially qualified nurses and supported by the hospital’s team of physicians. Other clinical staff such as physiotherapists and dieticians are also involved in care as required.

The HDU is also supported by intensive care specialists at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne through BRHS’ expanding telemedicine program.

The difference it makes

HDU Nurse Unit Manager Sue Hutton says being able to keep patients here in Bairnsdale is more than just a matter of convenience.

“When we have to transport someone for treatment, it means we have to separate them from their family and friends and from the support networks they rely on,” she says. “We know that can have a real impact on their recovery. There’s a big benefit to being able provide these specialist services here at our hospital, and so the new HDU is a really important addition.”

The new HDU is already helping local families.

Ron Hatcher, of Orbost, was admitted to BRHS in May for an urgent medical issue that would typically have necessitated transport to Melbourne.

However, because of the equipment and monitoring available in the new HDU, Ron was able to remain in Bairnsdale and receive top quality care.

Because of this, Ron’s wife, Gwen, was able to be with him every day. Gwen stayed at S.A.M’s Cottage, BRHS’ low cost accommodation within walking distance of the hospital, which is made available to patients’ families in certain situations.

“We couldn’t speak highly enough of all the staff at the hospital,” Gwen said. “Everyone was absolutely terrific. Being able to stay in Bairnsdale was really important, because it meant I could be with Ron every day, and not have to worry.”

Standing room only as BRHS CEO Robyn Hayles prepares to officially open the HDU. Photo: Jake Lynch/BRHS

The opening of the HDU was supported by donations for a number of people and organisations, including the hospital’s Kiosk Auxiliary and local semi-trailer manufacturing business Kennedy Trailers, both of which have made several generous contributions to BRHS in recent years.

“The contributions that these organisations make to the health service have a huge impact,” said BRHS Chief Executive Officer Robyn Hayles. “Their commitment to BRHS and to the community is remarkable, and we are deeply thankful for their support of us and the people of this region.”

Those organisations, and all staff and community members that contributed to the opening of the new HDU, were recognised at the HDU’s formal opening yesterday.

Kiosk Auxiliary Members, back – Maureen Huntington, Garry Holt, Liz Carey, centre – Anne Day, Merlie Hogg, Trish Barker, David Barker, and, front – Maggie Keep, Sue Ridgewell, Pat Newman, Suzanne Connell, Heather Wallis, and Janet Cook. Photo: Jake Lynch/BRHS