Partnership supports healthy minds

Friday 22 September 2017



Traditionally, the transfer of patients with poor mental health has been a challenge for healthcare facilities. That looks set to change at Bass Coast Health (BCH) with the launch of a new partnership to support the needs of local people suffering from mental health issues.


The ‘Supporting Healthy Minds’ program is a new partnership between BCH and Health Select, who until now have provided non-emergency transport for BCH’s patients. This new initiative aims to provide more effective non-emergency transfers for patients experiencing mental illness by providing exclusive transport to these patients in a custom-designed vehicle.


Most people will know that all inpatient mental health facilities are located at Traralgon at Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH), so patients with mental health issues who present to the Wonthaggi ED and who need ongoing specialist care will be transported by ambulance to LRH.  


With the introduction of this new program, patients presenting with mental health illnesses should have access to this specialised transport in a timelier manner with the specific aim of reducing police and ambulance involvement.


This new program was developed by Health Select owner and founder Jeanette Cunningham in response to an increased prevalence of people suffering from poor mental health.


Jeanette notes, “We felt that this group of patients really warranted a service of their own, particularly in this area. We wanted to ensure that each and every patient, regardless of diagnosis, receives safe, high-quality and specialised transportation. ‘Supporting Healthy Minds’ was designed to specifically meet the needs of mental health patients and improve the patient experience as they are transported to specialist healthcare facilities”.


Health Select will base its new vehicle on stand-by at the Wonthaggi Hospital for immediate access and has local highly-trained staff available on a roster to provide a response within 90 minutes of being required. In addition to the usual features one might expect, this specialised vehicle can accommodate another person who can accompany the patient and it provides two-way TV monitoring equipment. To provide a safe environment for staff and patients, a duress system has also been incorporated into the design. This duress system interfaces with a GPS location system and connects directly to staff, who can provide a rapid response by alerting emergency services if required. The vehicles will also soon have the capacity to connect via a cellular modem to BCH so that BCH can monitor the patient in the vehicle en-route.


“As clinicians, our focus is always on the needs of our patients and providing them with safe, high-quality care. This can be a challenge when the needs of different patients compete, so it’s very satisfying to be able to collaborate with Health Select as they develop a service that will be meaningful and beneficial to patients”, commented BCH’s Emergency Department Nurse Unit Manager Cath Jones.


The service will be provided to low risk clients who do not require medication during transport. Plans are underway for Health Select to provide a second vehicle based at Traralgon.


“We chose BCH to partner with in this exciting transport trial because they’re so great to work with. This is our first foray into this model so we’re keen to work with them to thoroughly evaluate and continually improve the program,” said Jeanette