by Luke Voogt
After swallowing a coin, Bell Park toddler Ollie Bingham became one of a dozen patients daily using Barwon Health North’s Urgent Care Centre since its opening.
His mum, Tiana Dawes, called her mother in panic when she discovered a 10-cent coin lodged in his throat.
“I was about to head into town, but mum told me Barwon Health North was open and it was closer,” she said.
“We came here and by that time he had swallowed the coin. It was two days before he was due for a tonsillectomy, so that was my main concern.”
She had anticipated waiting hours at University Hospital Geelong’s emergency department (ED) as a less-urgent patient, she explained.
“The (Barwon Health North) staff were great. They made us feel welcome and took us straight through,” she said.
“The staff observed his breathing while he had a bit of a run around and play, and made sure he was okay before they sent us home with the all-clear.”
A few weeks since opening, the facility is treating an average of 10 patients each weekday and about 16 patients daily on weekends, according to Barwon Health.
“This number is increasing each week as knowledge of the service grows,” said Carol Mioduchowski, Barwon Health’s northern area manager.
Patients often said they would have attended University Hospital Geelong’s ED if not for the facility, Ms Mioduchowski said.
Barwon Health North’s medical imaging services would further ease demand on Geelong’s public ED during the football and netball seasons, she said.
The services would provide an alternative for the increased number of people presenting at the ED with suspected sprains and fractures, she explained.
As of February 16, Barwon Health North staff had completed more than 1200 imaging exams averaging about 250 a week, Ms Mioduchowski said.
Renal services are due to open in March, and specialist maternity, paediatric, chronic and complex care clinics are scheduled to begin in April.
The urgent care centre is open seven days, 2pm to 10pm, and Barwon Health planned to increase the hours “in line with demand”, Ms Mioduchowski said.