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Emergency Departments are under pressure: Please access other alternatives

Posted Dec 30th, 2021

Niagara Health is seeing a high number of patients in our Emergency Departments (ED) who do not need this level of healthcare and could access the right level of care through their family physician or other primary care provider.

A significant number of these people 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 at home, if needed.

“The ED is the busiest area of the hospital,” says Dr. Johan Viljoen, Chief of Staff and Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs. “All hospitals in Canada assess patients using the same national standard to ensure the sickest patients are always seen first, even if they arrive after other patients. If you visit the ED for a minor illness or injury, please expect to wait.”

COVID-19 testing at Niagara Health Assessment Centres

Demand for COVID-19 testing in Niagara is currently very high and continues to increase. Niagara Health is prioritizing tests for those at greatest risk, including healthcare workers and emergency responders.

Visit the Niagara Region Public Health website for testing options in our region.

Know your healthcare options

We are asking for the public’s help in understanding their healthcare options to receive the right level of care as quickly as possible, from ED care in the hospital for the most serious concerns to primary care in the community for more minor concerns.

  1. Primary Care should be the first point of care if emergency care is not needed. This includes family doctors’ offices, walk-in clinics, nurse practitioner clinics, community health centres and other healthcare options.
  2. Our Urgent Care Centres in Fort Erie or Port Colborne can address concerns for patients that cannot wait for a scheduled medical appointment. You can also access online urgent care without leaving home by visiting Urgent Care Ontario.
  3. EDs provide 24-hour access to care for people experiencing trauma, serious injury or serious illness. Those experiencing a medical emergency, should call 9-1-1 immediately or go to the nearest ED.

For additional information, visit the Know Your Options section of our website.

Niagara Health System