Surge in patient volumes heightens strain on our Emergency Department and hospital capacity: Please consider your healthcare options

(HAGERSVILLE) – Like many hospitals across Canada, West Haldimand General Hospital (WHGH) continues to face immense challenges related to capacity pressures. We continue to look at all options to prioritize the delivery of safe and quality care for patients while creating a safe and quality work environment for our staff and physicians.

Currently, WHGH is seeing a surge of flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and COVID-19 illnesses being presented in the emergency department and we have frequently reached or exceeded 100% occupancy.

These challenges are being felt at hospitals across the province, and that is why we ask everyone to help us preserve care for those who need it most and only come to the emergency department if your health concern is critical. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or proceed to your local Emergency Department.

Priority will always be given to trauma and critical care patients.

Patients with non-urgent medical issues may experience longer than usual wait-times. Patients who seek care at the emergency department will be triaged and prioritized based on the severity of their conditions.

“With the uptick of respiratory infections and staffing shortages province-wide, emergency departments are under immense pressure,” said Dr. William Liang, Chief of the emergency department at WHGH. “If you have a non-urgent issue, we ask at this time, to consider your healthcare options before presenting to the emergency department. We strive to always provide the best care we can, and appreciate your understanding and patience during this challenging time.”

Differentiating between a common cold, COVID-19, or flu symptoms can be challenging. However, practicing caution by staying home if feeling unwell, wearing masks indoors, frequent handwashing, and keeping up with vaccinations for both children and adults is strongly advised to curb the spread.

Managing cold and flu symptoms at home with rest, hydration, and over-the-counter remedies can often bring relief. If seeking children’s cold and flu medicine becomes challenging, consult your local pharmacist for suitable alternatives.

WHGH strongly encourages everyone, if eligible, to obtain the latest COVID-19 and flu shots, along with the RSV vaccine.

“Like many emergency departments across the province, West Haldimand General Hospital is feeling the strains of our healthcare system,” said AnneMarie VanSickleClinical Director of the Emergency Department. “With a rise in influenza, RSV, residual and new COVID-19 cases, combined with the ongoing pressures on our healthcare system, we are experiencing longer wait times than usual. We encourage everyone to be proactive and practice safety and to consider alternate options for non-emergent issues.  Our team is working tirelessly to provide the best care we can to the community, and sincerely appreciate your understanding at this challenging time.”

We encourage everyone to know all of their health-care options:

In an effort to alleviate emergency department strain and ensure timely access to care, WHGH suggests considering these alternative healthcare options for non-urgent medical needs: Here are some options to consider:

  1.  Consult Your Family Physician: For non-urgent medical issues that can wait 24 hours or more, consulting a family physician who understands your medical history is advisable.
  2.  Visit a Local Pharmacist: Pharmacists in Ontario are authorized to prescribe medication for 19 specific conditions. This expanded scope of practice allows individuals to seek treatment directly from their local pharmacist
  3.  Health811:Access registered nurses 24/7 via phone or web chat for medical advice and support. For more information, visit the Health811 website.
  4.  Virtual Online Care: Virtual Urgent Care is like seeing a Nurse Practitioner or Doctor on the computer or your cell phone, and you can do it the same day or the next day. They can help adults and kids in Southwestern Ontario! Book your appointment at

If you need to visit an Emergency Department, please bring your health card and all your medications.

WHGH is anticipating wait times over the holidays will be longer than usual. Our staff and physicians are working extremely hard to manage the health and safety of patients, so please be kind and understanding.

Stay up to date with your vaccinations:

The most effective means to reduce seasonal influenza and COVID-19 is by receiving the flu and COVID-19 vaccines. By getting vaccinated, you significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization from these illnesses.

To schedule your appointment with local pharmacies or primary care providers to receive your flu or COVID-19 shot, please click here  .WHGH is grateful to everyone for their patience and understanding as we try to meet the needs of all patients.