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Exceptional emergency care at Balmain Hospital

General Practice Casualty a niche service in the community.

A female doctor sitting in a chair across from an older woman sitting on a hospital bed
SydneyConnect Image: Dr Annie Taylor having a catch up with Anne

After a heart valve replacement in July last year, fourth-generation Balmain local Anne Lowe noticed an opening in her chest months after her surgery. 

Her zipper, as she calls it, was not zipped up.  

"Everything was going fine, and at the beginning of November, I noticed a little opening where they opened me up," she said.

"I thought maybe I should go to a doctor because I'm terrified of infections.  

"It's in such an awkward location, and it just was not healing," she said.  

She attended Balmain Hospital's General Practice Casualty (GPC) to receive urgent care for her wound and alleviate her concerns.  

The GPC is a triage-based service for people with non-life-threatening conditions in Sydney's Inner West, staffed by specialist doctors and a highly skilled nursing team.  

The unique urgent care centre assesses and treats a range of patients, which helps to relieve the pressure and wait times for other hospital emergency departments such as Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.  

Dr Annie Taylor, GPC Staff Specialist, said the service typically sees a variety of patients presenting with a range of issues, including sprain, cuts and broken bones. 

"We also see a lot of kids, as you'd expect in general practice or emergency," she said. 

"A lot of families know that we're here if their child is too unwell to wait for their GP or can't get an appointment, which also helps to take the burden off the local emergency department," she said.   

Dr Taylor said the multidisciplinary team feels like a family, working together to help patients get the appropriate treatment. 

"Being in a hospital setting, we are able to work in a team of nursing staff, physiotherapists, dietitians, speech pathologists, and pharmacists, and everyone works together with point-of-care resources like x-rays and blood tests," she said.  

The triage model also allows the team to work closely with the Emergency Department at RPA and refer patients on when needed. 

"It's a quicker specialty service, where we provide excellent care from a GP, and waiting time is not as long as at other hospitals," said Una Herlihy, Registered Nurse and acting Nurse Unit Manager.  

Patients who attend the GPC also have access to x-ray services, Hospital in the Home, a Fracture Clinic on Tuesdays, and a Wound Clinic on weekdays. 

"In the Wound Clinic, we will continue to see patients until their wounds are fully healed," Una said. 

"There are a lot of regular patients who have appointment times and enjoy the familiarity and friendly service."

Anne sees a doctor and nurses at the GPC Wound Clinic twice a week to monitor her wound as it heals. 

"The staff have been amazing and are very patient," she said. 

"It's never pleasant, but they make it as easy and simple, and they're all so kind and happy, they cheer you up." 

The Balmain Hospital GPC is open every day of the year (including public holidays) from 8am to 10pm. Learn more about their services.