Emergency Departments remain under pressure: Please access other alternatives

Norfolk General Hospital (NGH) is asking the public to consider their health care options before presenting to the emergency department.

NGH’s emergency department remains extremely busy, and like many other hospitals across the province, we continue to experience staff shortages.

Priority will be given to trauma and critical care patients. Patients with non-urgent medical issues may experience long wait-times.

Most recently, we have noticed an increase of patients in our emergency department who are seeking a COVID-19 test and have mild or no symptoms. In these cases, people should stay home and rest while self-isolating to limit the spread of this highly contagious virus. Patients should reach out to their primary care provider for help managing symptoms and treatment at home, if needed. A home rapid test is sufficient for seeking treatment options.

Individuals should not come to the emergency department for a COVID-19 test or to obtain their results. COVID-19 Assessment Centres provide COVID-19 tests. To book an appointment, complete a self-referral online by clicking here or call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

Emergency departments are always available for emergencies, and if you are experiencing a medical emergency, please visit your nearest emergency department or call 911.

Please be aware that there are other health care options in our community. Unless a person is experiencing a medical emergency, the following resources should be considered before visiting an emergency department:

Consider one of the following options:

  • A family doctor, for health concerns that can wait a day or more.
  • If you have a minor ailment such as a urinary tract infection or need a prescription refill, visit your local pharmacist.
  • A sore throat, earache, or rash could be treated at a local walk-in clinic. Walk-in clinics can offer patients same-day appointments to treat non-urgent and minor illnesses and ailments. You can find walk-in clinic locations in Haldimand-Norfolk here: https://www.hnhbhealthline.ca/listservicesdetailed.aspx?id=10072&region=HaldimandNorfolk
  • Cold or flu symptoms, sinus infections, and other common medical conditions can be treated, through Health Connect Ontario. Visit https://healthconnectontario.health.gov.on.ca/static/guest/homefor more information. This on-demand service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • If you need health care advice or are unsure about your medical issue, you can contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to speak with a Registered Nurse.

NGH will continue to treat emergency, critical and urgent cases as quickly as possible.

About the triage process:

The NGH 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: asthma and frostbite.
  • 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.

Please be kind to your health care workers, who are working to provide care under challenging circumstances.