Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Extra staff rostered on at Echuca hospital

Extra staff will working at Echuca hospital's emergency department in preparation for tonight's New Year's Eve celebrations.

KATHLEEN TONINI December 31, 2012 11:04am

Extra security staff have been rostered on at the Echuca hospital emergency department for New Year’s Eve to cope with potential violence.

Emergency department nursing manager Craig Frew said the hospital had a zero tolerance policy to violence or aggression towards hospital staff and would not hesitate to call the police.

He said while there were security staff rostered on year-round, there were more during peak periods.

Extra medical and nursing staff will also be rostered on to cope with the potential influx of people.

Mr Frew said peak periods such as New Year’s Eve saw more assaults, alcohol-related injuries, lacerations and drug-related issues.

Drug-related behavioral changes was one of the main reasons for the extra security staff, he said.

Mr Frew said the emergency department had seen an increase in presentations related to the use of the drug ice (or crystal meth) over the past few years.

He said such cases were more prevalent on busy nights like New Year’s Eve.

‘‘It can be very difficult to deal with, especially when you’ve got drugs on board,’’ he said.

As well as extra staff and extra equipment such as crutches and collars for spinal injuries, a surgeon and theatre staff will be on call.

Despite preparations, the nature of an emergency department was there were always surprises, he said.

‘‘Being in the ED you just don’t know what’s going to come in the doors at any time,’’ he said.

He noted this would be the first New Year’s Eve with the refurbished emergency department fully operational.

The $1 million redevelopment late last year made the waiting room bigger, refurbished the office, installed two new consulting rooms and new air conditioning.

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