What are Emergency and Urgent Care Centre Wait Times?
How will I be assessed for my turn to be seen?
Why are other people being seen before me?
What are the triage levels of the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS)?
How do you calculate Emergency Department and Urgent Care Centre wait times?
Who updates the wait times on your website? How often is it refreshed?
What factors will affect how long I will wait?
How does the number of patients in other areas of the hospital impact my wait time in the Emergency Department?
What happens after I am seen by a doctor or nurse practitioner?
Are there additional costs related to a visit to the Emergency Department or Urgent Care Centre?
How can I share feedback about my care?
Our current wait times page shows the Emergency and Urgent Care Centre wait times at all Niagara Health sites. The wait time posted refers to the length of time between when you arrive to the front desk to check in with the triage nurse and when you see a doctor or nurse practitioner. It is not a guarantee of the length of time that you will wait.
The Emergency Department and Urgent Care Centre does not work on a first come, first served system. It’s important to know that critical patients will be seen first, whether they arrive on their own or via ambulance. Upon arrival, you will be assessed using the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS). You will be seen by a doctor based on that assessment. In simple terms, the sickest patients will be seen most quickly.
You can read about what to expect during a visit to the Emergency Department in Ontario here.
The sickest patients are always seen first, even though they may arrive after other patients. On arrival, each patient is assessed by a triage nurse using the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) to ensure patients are triaged fairly and consistently in the same way at every hospital in Canada. Patients with the most serious life- or limb-threatening injuries or illness are treated first, followed by those with less urgent illness or medical needs.
The Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) is a tool used across the country and internationally to ensure patients are triaged fairly and consistently in the same way at every hospital. There are five triage levels, Level 1 being the most critical and Level 5 being non-urgent.
At Niagara Health, our Emergency Departments treat patients from Level 1 to 3 and our Urgent Care Centres treat patients between Level 4 and 5.
Level 1 – Critical — obviously life threatening
Conditions requiring resuscitation, including cardiac arrest, shock and major trauma
Level 2 – Emergent — potential threat to life or limb
Examples include asthma flare-up when medicine isn’t working, altered mental state, chest pain that suggests heart problems
Level 3 – Urgent — a condition or serious problem requiring emergency intervention
Examples include abdominal pain, mild dehydration, kidney stone or shortness of breath
Level 4 – Less Urgent — conditions which because of distress or potential for complications would benefit from intervention
Examples include vomiting and diarrhea with no dehydration, bladder infections, lacerations and earaches
Level 5 – Non Urgent — conditions which are non-urgent and/or which might be part of a chronic problem
Examples include sore throat and insect bites
The wait time is calculated by averaging the time that each patient has waited over the last six hours.
Your personal experience may vary from these posted wait times based on a number of factors, including:
Wait times are updated automatically every 20 minutes using our computer systems and hospital data.
The wait times posted can change quickly and dramatically depending on patient need. An incident such as a serious trauma can unexpectedly and significantly impact the wait time for others.
A number of circumstances can affect how long you may spend in the Emergency Department:
Like other hospitals, Niagara Health cares for a number of patients who may no longer require the resources of the hospital. Many of these patients cannot be safely discharged to another setting without home care or additional services being set up in advance. Often, patients need different levels of care and stay in their hospital bed until space becomes available at other healthcare facilities, such as a long-term care home. Delays occur in the Emergency Department as patients continue to be admitted to an inpatient room but have to wait for patients elsewhere in the hospital to be discharged.
There are several steps of care in the Emergency Department and Urgent Care Centre:
The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) covers most hospital services, but there are a few things that are not covered:
If you are not covered by OHIP or your OHIP card has expired, you will be charged for your hospital visit. If you receive any of these services, please see the cashier to make payment before you leave the hospital.
We work with our healthcare teams to enhance the hospital experience for our patients, families and visitors, and feedback is very important. If you would like to provide feedback, or request this information in another language, please contact our Patient Relations team by phone at 905-378-4647 ext. 44423 or by e-mail.
The displaying of wait times on the Niagara Health System website is for general information only and is not medical advice or a recommendation that you choose a different Emergency Department or Urgent Care Centre.
Niagara Health System clearly disclaims all liability for the use of this information and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.
Niagara Health System does not assume, and is not responsible for any liability whatsoever arising from any person’s use of this website, including any decisions made about their personal health as a result of using this website.