Cootamundra Hospital emergency department (ED) has been moved from the first floor back to the ground floor where it used to be in a $461,500 refurbishment opened today by the member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke.
An audience of more than 30 nurses, health officials, paramedics and local volunteer supporters of the hospital gathered in the brand new emergency department to witness Cootamundra's Geoff Twomey cut the ribbon.
The hospital's emergency department has in recent years been split between an intensive care emergency room for serious cases downstairs, and rooms upstairs for less urgent cases where it is understood staff moved several years ago to be less isolated from areas of hospital work.
All the emergency facilities are now back on the ground floor in an overhauled area that gives better access for ambulances and patients and makes it easier for doctors, nurses and paramedics to give the best possible emergency response.
Opening the upgraded emergency department, Ms Cooke acknowledged the recent unavailability of a visiting medical officer (VMO) due to the decision by the Cootamundra Medical Centre to discontinue the practice of making its GPs available during weekdays when needed in the ED.
"I acknowledge that of late things have been a bit difficult with respect to doctor availability, and I know the pressure that is placing on our nursing staff, paramedics, doctors and other health specialists," she said.
"I really want to say thank you so much for all of the effort you are going to and I know that in a lot of cases it is over and above.
"We are doing everything we can to ensure we can attract doctors to this town along with other doctors that we need in towns right across the region and we will continue to work toward that leaving no stone unturned to make sure that our communities have the appropriate medical cover that they need and deserve.
"This upgrade will create a much better environment for patients and medical professionals, and enable this facility to serve Cootamundra even more effectively.
"There is also an ED waiting room and a large triage room where patients can be assessed by nursing staff in privacy.
"The administration area has been moved to the front of the hospital.
"The upgrade is part of $8 million announced last year under the NSW government's rural health minor works program.
"The upgrade of itself becomes an attractive feature for any people who want to come and work here and live in our community."