HOSPITAL SERIES: THE mighty roar of helicopters landing on top of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital will soon be a reality.
The new five-star emergency department, complete with outside bays to triage and care for patients before they enter the hospital, is now in its final week of preparations.
A core lift will give more than 10 medical staff the ability to transfer patients between critical care areas, including the helipad, in the blink of an eye.
It is a potentially lifesaving advancement.
Despite the changes brought by the new hospital, its sister site at Caloundra is not getting left behind.
The opening of the emergency department will trigger a new lease of life for the Caloundra Health Service which will operate as a minor injury and illness clinic.
GPs say the move has the potential to improve the health of people living at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast.
Caloundra-based GP of more than 20 years and former Sunshine Coast Medical Association president Dr Dianna Minuskin said the move was the best use of health resources.
"This is the opportunity for patients to have access to gold standard treatment in a quick time-frame," she said.
"So it is impractical to have two emergency clinics so close to each other.
"The proposal for the minor injury and illness clinic is one that has been developed in consultation with GPs.
"Local GPs have been meeting for more than 12 months in order to plan the operation."
Dr Minuskin said the new clinic would encourage patients to engage a regular GP, which has the potential to improve quality of life.
"This will not be somewhere you go for a follow up," she said.
"If people come here we will encourage them to go to a regular GP.
"GPs are more than trained to handle general health procedures.
"This is not only best practice for the patient, but also the best use of health resources."
Dr Minuskin said many patients did not realise GPs had extensive after-hour services, which he encouraged people to use as much as possible.
"For those patients with non-emergency problems, who are unable to access the above services, the new minor injury and illness clinic at Caloundra Hospital will be available," she said.
The clinic, the first of its kind in Australia, will operate from 9am-9pm with the aim to remove the surplus of non-urgent cases presenting to the emergency department.
"Our consultation has led us to look at numbers of people and when they present to emergency," Dr Minuskin said.
"They regularly struggle with category four and five patients who could have easily been seen to by GP.
"Emergency departments need to be for emergencies only."
Concerns still exist despite the extensive planning that has gone into the opening of the Caloundra clinic.
Member for Caloundra Mark McArdle said the closure of Caloundra's emergency department was a "disaster".
"This means from 9pm to 9am there will be no services available at the Caloundra Hospital," he said.
"If they open for 12 hours a day, why can't they just have it open for 24 hours?"
Mr McArdle said the plans did not take into consideration the growing population of the southern end of the Sunshine Coast.
"There is a need to grow medical services for the future," he said.
"Facilities should be open to cater for the need for the population.
"As we move season to season the tourist numbers almost double the population of Caloundra."
Caloundra clinic acting clinical director Dr Sandra Peters said the new facility was superior in planning and execution.
"The plans for the move from Caloundra to the university hospital was brought about through extensive discussion over a number of years," she said.
"The new emergency department has the capacity to see far more presentations.
"The number of presentations from the southern end of the Coast will be able to be easily handled by Kawana."
But Dr Peters said despite thorough planning, on-going analysis and consultation on how the clinic was performing would occur for an extensive time.
"As we work towards a more integrated health system for the Sunshine Coast and as we mature we can start looking how we integrate other elements of care to support patient journey."