Hospital departure lounge frees up beds
Patients being released from care will soon be putting their feet up in comfort with the opening of a specialised waiting area.
Middlemore Hospital has transformed one of its first-floor wards at the Edmund Hillary Building into a new discharge lounge. It's the first time the hospital has provided such a service.
People coming to the end of their stay in hospital will enjoy the support of healthcare staff and volunteers, relax in an armchair, read magazines and drink tea or coffee while waiting to be released.
Hospital services director Phillip Balmer hopes the new facility, which opened on Monday, will free up more critical resources.
"Previously, patients waiting to be discharged have done so in their ward bed. Discharges usually happen in the early to mid-afternoon, meaning that some ward beds are filled for much of the day by well patients who are simply waiting to go home," he says.
Nurse manager Michele Carsons, who was put in charge of organising the new lounge, says patients will now have a comfortable, well-organised place to rest while waiting to leave.
"From a patient perspective, their experience going home from hospital will be a really nice finish to their stay," she says.
"The lounge will give them time to ask any questions and last-minute education they will need to know. And from the lounge they will also be able to see their ride coming in the pick-up zone. It's a really sunny area in a nice environment."
About 100 patients are discharged from Middlemore every day and Carsons says the new lounge will play a big role in improving the flow.
Each day the area is expected to cater for about 80 people who will stay for up to three hours at a time.
Volunteers like Maureen Martyn will play a key role in running the purpose-built facility.
She has been volunteering at the hospital for four years and got involved as a way to stay active upon retirement.
"I really enjoy mixing with people and dealing with the public by helping and assisting them," she says.
"Finding your way around a hospital can be very difficult so the volunteers help by telling people where to go and how to get there."
Middlemore Hospital needs more volunteers like Maureen Martyn to help out the nurses in the new lounge with tasks such as handing out magazines, making hot drinks and simply talking to patients and providing company.
■ Call Faye Robinson-Legge on 276 0044 ext 2955 if you are interested in volunteering in the new lounge. -