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How to get emergency medical care this season

Posted Dec 22nd, 2008

NIAGARA, ON – Hospital emergency departments and emergency services personnel across Niagara are extremely busy this time of year. Here is some important information for residents needing emergency medical care this season.

Sometimes it is difficult to know whether your problem is serious. Here are some examples of when to go to the Emergency Department or call 911:

  • Chest pain (especially for those with a history of heart problems)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Dizziness
  • Stroke symptoms
  • Numbness in arms or hands
  • Major injuries
  • Mental health issues
  • Call 911 with severe chest pain, stroke symptoms or a serious condition which may be worsening.

If you need advice, consult your family physician or call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. If you have any doubts, call 911 or go to the closest emergency department.

Emergency Departments are located at the following NHS sites: Douglas Memorial Hospital Site (Fort Erie), Greater Niagara General Site (Niagara Falls), Port Colborne General Site, St. Catharines General Site, Welland Hospital Site.

Prompt Care Centre for St. Catharines, Thorold and surrounding area

A Prompt Care Centre is open daily, including weekends and holidays, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Ontario Street Site, 155 Ontario Street, St. Catharines. Prompt care is medical attention and treatment for unexpected minor illnesses and injuries that are not life-threatening. Here are some examples:

  • Broken bones, sprains, sports injuries
  • Cuts that may need stitches
  • Minor burns
  • Minor abdominal pain (nausea, vomiting, flu)
  • Ear, nose and throat problems
  • Coughs and colds
  • Eye problems

Be Prepared for the Holidays

Avoid health problems and illness by being prepared. Here is a checklist to consider:

  • Call the doctor's office and local pharmacy. Find out what their hours will be over the holidays and ask about any back-up coverage arrangements.
  • Get a flu shot. Family doctors can offer this service or refer patients to the nearest clinic that does.
  • Check medications and medical equipment. Make sure that all family members have enough of their medications, both prescription and non-prescription, to last throughout the holiday season. Don't forget needles, alcohol swabs, etc. Also check inhalers, respirators, oxygen, and glucose testing machines.
  • Have extra batteries on hand for equipment such as electric wheelchairs.
  • Update all emergency telephone numbers and post them in a visible place (eg. refrigerator).

How You Can Help

  • Have an up-to-date Ontario Health Card when coming to an emergency department or the Prompt Care Centre.
  • Bring a list of all medications being taken on a regular basis, along with any other important information such as allergies.
  • While waiting for treatment, please do not eat or drink without first checking with a nurse.
  • If patients decide to leave the hospital before being seen by a doctor, please speak with a nurse.

Niagara Health System