South Australia government has announced the start of early construction works for expanding the Lyell McEwin hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) in Adelaide.

The A$58m ($37.19m) project, which is part of the government’s A$1bn ($64.13m) hospital infrastructure investment, also involves build of a new Mental Health Short Stay Unit at the hospital.

It will nearly double the hospital’s existing ED capacity and is expected to ease burden.

South Australia Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said: “The Lyell McEwin ED has been under intense pressure for many years and this investment will ensure it continues to provide first class health service for the people of northern Adelaide.

“The $58m investment will also deliver critical jobs as South Australia deals with the severe economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The expansion of the Lyell McEwin hospital will occur in a staged manner in order to ensure continued clinical services and operation of the ED during the construction period.

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This is expected to help in case of a second wave of positive Covid-19 cases in South Australia or other need for health services.

The early works are expected to allow earlier opening of the A$7m extension of the multi-storey car park, which is meant to avoid short-term decrease of car parks for visitors and hospital staff.

In addition to reconfiguration of the Oldham Road car park area, the project’s first stage involves build of a temporary ambulance entry and alterations to the public drop off to ensure access to the existing ED.

The commencement of the construction works was initially delayed in March due to Covid-19.

Northern Adelaide Local Health Network CEO Maree Geraghty said: “Following consultation, we have adjusted the design and staged approach of the expansion to ensure we are on track for building works to commence to the new three-storey ED and the purpose-built Mental Health Short Stay Unit in the second half of the year.”

The eight-bed Short Stay Mental Health Unit is intended to offer a suitable setting for mental health patients while improving patient flow through the ED.