WHGH urges the public to explore health care options before visiting the Emergency Department

With viral season upon us, along with continued staffing challenges, hospitals throughout the province, including West Haldimand General Hospital (WHGH), are very busy. This is resulting in in longer wait times for care. That is why we are encouraging our community to know where to go for medical care in Haldimand-Norfolk as it can mean you don’t have to wait as long. By knowing your local health care options, individuals can ensure they receive the appropriate care while also allowing the emergency department teams to continue providing safe, quality, and timely emergency care.

The pressures our emergency department is facing is not a local issue, but something the region is facing, said Dr. William Liang, Chief of the emergency department at WHGH. “While we are working hard to provide the best care possible in a timely manner, we are asking for the community to play their part and consider alternative options for non-emergent issues. As we enter cold and flu season, please consider alternative care when possible.”

When to Visit the Emergency Department or Call 911

At the WHGH Emergency Department, our staff and physicians first priority is taking care of the people who are the most critically ill or severely injured, including those brought in by ambulance. This can sometimes lead to longer waits for individuals with less urgent concerns.

It’s important to remember that the individuals who are the sickest or most seriously injured receive immediate attention at the emergency department.

Additionally, hospitals are currently experiencing challenges related to their staffing, which may result in longer wait times depending on the urgency of your situation. This is all part of ensuring that everyone gets the care they need.

Here are some examples of medical emergencies that require immediate attention:

  1. Discomfort or tightness in the chest
  2. Signs of a stroke
  3. Unusual shortness of breath
  4. Abdominal pain
  5. Prolonged and persistent headache or dizziness
  6. Injuries that may require stitches or involve a broken bone
  7. Children with prolonged diarrhea or vomiting
  8. Infants under six months of age with a fever of 38°C (100.4°F) or higher

If you are uncertain about the urgency of your medical condition, it is advisable to call Health811. Trained professionals will provide guidance on the type of medical attention required.

“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 the anticipated increase in influenza cases, 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 this fall 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.”

It is important to note that Emergency Departments are always available for emergencies, and if you are experiencing a medical emergency, please visit your nearest Emergency Department or call 911. Patients with the most critical health care needs will continue to be prioritized.

Exploring Non-Urgent Health Care Options

To alleviate the strain on the emergency department and ensure timely access to care, WHGH recommends considering alternative options for non-urgent medical needs. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Consult Your Family Physician

If your medical issue can wait for 24 hours or longer, it is advisable to consult your family physician. They have a comprehensive understanding of your medical history and can provide appropriate guidance or treatment.

  1. 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. To learn more about the conditions covered, visit the Ontario government’s website.

  1. Health Connect Ontario

Health Connect Ontario offers access to registered nurses 24/7 through phone or web chat. Whether you have questions or need medical advice, these professionals can provide guidance and support. For more information, visit the Health Connect Ontario website.

  1. Delhi Community Health Centre (DCHC) Walk-in Clinic

The Delhi Community Health Centre (DCHC) operates a walk-in clinic in Delhi, open to the public without the need for pre-booking. The clinic is available on Thursday evenings from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. It operates on a first-come, first-serve basis, with registration closing early based on patient numbers.

  1. Dr. Sean Godfrey’s Pediatric Clinic

For pediatric-related concerns, Dr. Sean Godfrey’s Pediatric Clinic offers a walk-in clinic at Roulston’s Pharmacy in Simcoe. The clinic operates every Monday and Wednesday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., providing convenient access to pediatric care.

Non-Urgent Medical Needs Best Treated by Alternative Options

It is essential to recognize which non-urgent medical needs are best suited for alternative care options. Consider utilizing these alternatives for the following conditions:

  1. Sore throat, toothaches, or earaches
  2. Possible bladder infections
  3. Skin rashes (such as scabies, etc.)
  4. Testing for sexually transmitted infections
  5. Lower back pain from lifting or twisting
  6. Flu-like symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, chills, and fever
  7. Prescription refills

WHGH is dedicated to providing medical care to all individuals in Haldimand County and surrounding areas. As part of our commitment, we are actively working on recruiting and retaining physicians and nurses to serve our community. Improving patient experience, addressing patient flow, and increasing access to services are among our top priorities.

By exploring alternative health care options for non-urgent medical needs, individuals can help alleviate the strain on the emergency department, ensuring that those with critical health care needs receive immediate attention. Together, we can ensure that everyone in our community receives the care they require in a timely and efficient manner.