WHGH Emergency Department Team prepares for a busy summer season

(Monday, June 19, 2023) – West Haldimand General Hospital (WHGH) is encouraging everyone to stay safe this summer as we move deeper into trauma season.

Like many hospitals across the province, WHGH sees an increase in trauma patients during the summer months. Trauma season typically begins at the end of May and lasts until the Labour Day weekend in September.

That is why we ask everyone to use caution this summer and 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 long wait-times.

Patients who seek care at the emergency department (ED) will be triaged and prioritized based on the severity of their conditions.

“As we try to serve our community to the best of our ability, we ask the community to help us to provide timely and speedy service to the patients in the emergency department (ED) by looking at alternatives before coming to the ED,” said Dr. William Liang, Chief of the emergency department at WHGH. “If there is no imminent danger, please consider contacting your family physician, using local walk-in clinics, visiting the local pharmacist for advice and treatment, or calling Health Connect Ontario (which used to be Telehealth) at 811. This will help us to streamline the triage of patients who require immediate emergency treatment in the ED because one day you might be the one who requires immediate emergency treatment”

 Staffing and capacity pressures continue at WHGH

Like many hospitals across Canada, WHGH is preparing to face pressures related to staffing and capacity during the summer months. 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.

We remain committed to helping everyone who needs medical care in the communities we serve.

“Like many emergency departments across the province, West Haldimand General Hospital is experiencing the strains of our healthcare system,” said AnneMarie VanSickleClinical Director of the Emergency Department. “With the expected rise in trauma patients, combined with the pressures on our healthcare system, we are experiencing longer wait times than usual. We encourage everyone to be proactive and practice safety this summer 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.”

Most injuries are predictable and preventable and we need your help spreading our information on preventing serious injuries on the road, at home, and at play. Throughout the summer months, please be safe.

About the triage process:

The WHGH Emergency Department triage patients based on physical and mental need for care.

All Canadian health care facilities use the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) tool to determine the seriousness of a person’s illness or injury, and care for them appropriately, with the most critical being cared for first.

When patients arrive at the emergency department, a triage nurse categorizes their care as one of the following:

  • Level 1: Severe. These are conditions that are threats to life or limb. For example: cardiac arrest and major trauma.
  • Level 2: Emergent. These are conditions that are a potential threat to life, limb or function. For example: chest pains.
  • Level 3: Urgent. These are serious conditions that require emergency intervention. For example: mild asthma and moderate trauma or vomiting and diarrhea in patients younger than two years.
  • Level 4: Semi-Urgent. These are conditions that relate to patient distress or potential complications that would benefit from intervention. For example: mild pains, such as an earache.
  • Level 5: Non-urgent. These are conditions that are non-urgent or that may be part of a chronic problem. For example: skin infections, back pain or ankle injuries.

Our staff and physicians are working extremely hard to manage the health and safety of patients with limited resources, so please be kind and understanding.

 Alternate options for less urgent needs:

Please know that other options are available for people not experiencing a medical emergency.

  • Call your family doctor to discuss symptoms to determine if you need to visit your doctor or the emergency department.

    Your primary care provider will:
  • Diagnose and treat common illnesses and injuries
  • Make referrals to healthcare specialists for help with a specific condition and support in managing a chronic condition (such as diabetes or high blood pressure)
  • Provide regular checkups, including physicals and routine screening tests, and write prescriptions for medication
  • Use Health Connect Ontario
    • gov.on.ca has a symptom checker and the option to chat live with a nurse.
    • Health811 can give you advice 24/7 on where to go for care. Call 8-1-1 (TTY 1-866-797-0007).
  • Visit a local pharmacist. Pharmacists in Ontario can now prescribe medication for 13 conditions. Learn more by visiting: https://www.ontario.ca/Page/Pharmacies