"Emergency Department accessibility"

About: Northam Health Service / Emergency Department

(as the patient),

I was unable to get into a doctor and so went to the new Emergency Department at Northam Hospital. There I found a lack of consideration for the access of people using gophers or wheelchairs. As there is no space to leave a gopher outside, I had to take it in. The windows are set up so you have to go to the second window for them to call a triage nurse, then back to the first window, then to the third window which means a lot of manoeuvring. I was told to wait, and asked where as there is no space for others to go past when you sit in the entryway at the door/desks, and the waiting area is full of chairs. The staff looked confused when I asked where I could leave my gopher. They eventually just said to stay anywhere. When I was called through, it was obvious the problem has not really been considered behind the entry either, as there was still nowhere to park it except to take it into the bay. I can see this causing blockages and may badly affect people trying to treat patients. 

This really needs to be addressed, as I felt acutely aware that I was blocking entrance to anyone else that came in, and the staff seemed uncomfortable and unsure what to tell me to do when I asked about a solution.

The care was fine, but I cannot help wondering what would be the protocol if the bays were in use and 2 or more people with mobility devices were to come in. Even being able to walk short distances does not present a solution as it is, because there is nowhere for devices to be parked until you are in the bays. The only place I could see to park was in front of the entry doors, the door into the working area, or the doors that lead to treatment rooms. 


Response from Carolynne Ryan, Patient Opinion Coordinator, WACHS - Wheatbelt We are preparing to make a change

Dear not a happy patient,

Thank you for sharing your story with us through Patient Opinion, your feedback is appreciated as it assists us to improve our services.

Your concerns regarding no area for the parking of mobility devices has been noted by management. Ms Jenny Lee, Acting Operations Manager Western Wheatbelt and Ms Sharon Herrick, Acting Clinical Nurse Manager, Northam Health Service Emergency Department (ED) have reviewed the area and are currently making changes to have a clear designated location for patients to park their mobility devices near the ED entrance.

Your feedback has also highlighted the need for clear signage of the ED reception and triage desks, this is currently being arranged and the new signs should be in place in the near future.

Additionally to this, I wish to advise that there will also be a designated area for the parking of mobility devices in the new main hospital reception area once completed.

Should you require help from your mobility device to the treatment bays or other areas of the service, please request assistance from staff upon your arrival or ring the main reception on (08) 9690 1300.

We value our patient's feedback and would like to invite you to provide feedback to our Disability Access Inclusion Plan Committee and become a registered community member with an interest in health access by providing additional feedback when required.

If you would like to take up this opportunity please contact Ms Anna Kempton, Chair Wheatbelt Disability Access Inclusion Plan Committee on (08) 9881 0385 or via email Anna.kempton@health.wa.gov.au.

Again thank you for sharing your experience and do hope you consider our above invitation.

Kind regards

Marie Baxter

Acting Regional Director Wheatbelt

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Update posted by not a happy patient (the patient)

As long as the parking for mobility devices is where the Emergency Department (ED) is, as I note it says specified parking will be at the main entrance. This is too far from the ED for most mobility users to walk, so there needs to be a clearly marked area there also.