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Emergency

The South West Healthcare Emergency Department provides 24 hour emergency care for the Warrnambool community and throughout the Southwest region.

When and why should you visit an ED?

You should go to a hospital ED if you or your child are seriously ill or injured.

Most people go to EDs with conditions that include:

  • injuries from accidents, physical assaults or falls
  • heart attack and stroke
  • severe pain
  • problems with breathing or bleeding
  • broken bones
  • loss of consciousness
  • worsening of a serious illness
  • drug overdoses or poisoning
  • allergic reactions
  • pregnancy complications
  • mental illness
  • burns

People often take babies or children to public hospital EDs if they become ill suddenly. Many older people go there for urgent attention too.

How to access this service

The Emergency Department is open for walk-in consumers and ambulance arrivals 24 hours a day. Patients are triaged and attended to in order of illness severity.

Frequently asked questions

  • What do I need to bring to my emergency visit?

    • Identification
    • Medical history list
    • Surgical history list
    • Medication list, webster packs, or medication bottles
    • Allergy list
    • Eye glasses, hearing aids, or other aids to communication
    • Walking aids
    • Any letters, referrals, pathology results, test results, or other information appropriate to the presenting complaint.

    You may also want to bring a book or magazine, ipad or phone, and we encourage you to bring chargers for your devices.

  • How long will I wait to be seen?

    Consumers are triaged and seen in order of illness severity so that the sickest patients receive prompt care. We make every attempt to prevent long waits and pride ourselves on our excellent and timely care, but volumes and illness severity can be unpredictable. Weekends and public holidays will see longer waiting times. We ask that patients bring their own device chargers, books, or other items that will make the wait more enjoyable.

    If your illness is not severe and you do not wish to spend time in the waiting room we encourage you to seek other options for care which are listed below.

  • What is triage?

    Your treatment starts as soon as you step into the emergency department. On arrival, you see a specialist emergency nurse called the triage nurse. The triage nurse assesses how serious your condition is. In Australia, the triage system is used to guide hospital staff to see patients according to how sick they are. This system allows patients with life-threatening problems to be seen first.

    In general, the triage system has five levels:
    Level 1 – Immediate: life threatening
    Level 2 – Emergency: could become life threatening
    Level 3 – Urgent: not life threatening
    Level 4 – Semi-urgent: not life threatening
    Level 5 – Non-urgent: needs treatment when time permits.

  • What are your hours of operation?

    We are open and provide emergency and urgent care services 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

  • How can I provide feedback about my visit?

    We love feedback! There are phone numbers, post cards, surveys, and an email address for you to provide feedback here. 

  • What are the rules for visitors?

    Due to COVID-19, additional restrictions have been put in place. At this time, adult consumers are allowed to have one person with them during their visit. Children may have both parents stay with them. Additional restrictions may apply and specific queries can be answered by the nursing and medical staff caring for you in the Emergency Department.

Alternatives For Non-Urgent Care

General Practitioners / Medical Centres

Search Health Direct to find a local GP near you: www.healthdirect.gov.au/australian-health-services

Or make an appointment with  South West Medical Centre 

Pharmacies

Pharmacists and chemists, including after-hours pharmacies, may be able to help diagnose or triage symptoms and refer patients to appropriate medical care professionals.

They can also provide advice on medications, wound care, vaccinations, self-care and lifestyle assessments, medical certificates and advice about children and babies.

You can search for your local pharmacy at findapharmacy.com.au or search the Healthdirect Service Finder to locate pharmacies with extended opening hours near you.

Helplines

GP After-Hours Helpline

Victorians can now call the national after hours GP helpline directly for reassurance and practical medical advice. The helpline is free to callers from landlines within Australia and operates Monday to Saturday 6pm to 8am, and from 12noon Saturday to 8am Monday and on all public holidays.

Ph: 1800 022 222 Website: www.healthdirect.gov.au/after-hours-gp-helpline

Nurse On Call

Nurse On Call is a phone service that provides immediate, expert health advice from a registered nurse, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Ph: 1300 606 024 Website: https://www.health.vic.gov.au/primary-care/nurse-on-call

COVID-19

The Coronavirus Helpline1800 020 080

Victorian Virtual Emergency Department (VVED), a public health service to treat non life-threatening emergencies.  The Victorian Virtual Emergency Department is open all day, every day. This service currently provides support for COVID related issue only, for people in our region.

 

Pregnancy, Birth and Baby1800 882 436 (for general advice and support about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting up to five years)

Victorian Poisons Information Centre: 131 126

 

Mental health lines

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 (24-hour support and counselling service)

Blue Knot Foundation Helpline: 1300 657 380 (for adult survivors of trauma and abuse)

Butterfly Foundation: 1800 33 4673 (for those with eating disorders and body image issues)

Counselling Online: 1800 888 236 (24/7 online support and referral for anyone affected by alcohol and other drugs.)

Directline: 1800 888 236 (24/7 telephone counselling and referral to services for people affected by addiction.)

eheadspace: 1800 650 890 (for young people aged 12 – 25 years)

Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800 (for young people 5 – 25 years)

Lifeline: 13 11 14 (24-hour crisis support)

MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78 (for men of any age)

PANDA: 1300 726 306 (for those suffering from perinatal anxiety and depression)

QLife: 1800 184 527 (to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people of all ages)

SANE Australia: 1800 18 7263 (support and training for those with a mental illness)

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467 (24-hour support if you or someone you know is feeling suicidal)

Suicide Help Line: 1300 651 251

Refer a patient

Community healthcare providers can refer patients to the Emergency Department when they deem emergent evaluation is needed. A call to the accepting officer in the ED with the patients name, gender, date of birth, and situation or concern is appreciated. Further, a fax to the ED with the above information, along with past medical and surgical history, medication list, and allergies, completes the handover and improves the ability of the ED staff to provide safe and effective care.

Page last updated: 22 July 2022

We value feedback from patients, consumers, family members and carers.