FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – After a recent request by Northern Health asking residents to only use the ER if needed has people needing clarity as to what to do then.
Speaking with Eryn Collins, Communications Officer with Northern Health, she said “We absolutely recognize that the reminder put out to the community December 14th, 2018 in FSJ is used when a Hospital is experiencing a period of higher than normal patient volume. This can depend on the time of year, such as flu season, long weekends and sometimes its a mix of patients in the hospital with complex health care issues that will make the Hospital busier than usual. It is not being said the Hospital is busier because people are coming and using it inappropriately its more of a reminder,” Collins goes on to say “When there are higher than normal patient volumes there are steps the public can take to avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital because they will probably experience longer wait times for example if their condition is not urgent.”
Emergency rooms are designed to be focused on tending to patients that have an emergency and urgent health care needs such as difficulty breathing, chest pains, broken bones, bleeding and suspected overdoses, situations that require attendance right away.
The NH wants the public to know there are other options for getting advice if you truly warrant an emergency room visit. Health link BC is an online tool, as well as calling 811 anytime day or night to receive non-emergency help from registered nurses and health care professionals who can offer trusted advice on managing symptoms at home.
Book appointments with family practitioners, it is known some of the public do not have a physician and it can be challenging as well if there is not an available walk-in clinic yet NH does not have a direct role in how these local primary care clinics structure their practices or the availability of their appointments. These are private physician practices although NH does work closely with family physicians recruitment of primary care providers to the community.
It is important for the public to contact their local medical clinics and inquire about becoming patients or being put on a waitlist.
“In the meantime, it’s about reminding people the Hospital is busier than usual and any unnecessary trips to the Hospital wait longer,” said Collins.
Steps the public can take to help avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital include;
- People who aren’t sure whether their condition would warrant an emergency room visit, or who need health advice can call HealthLink BC (8-1-1), or visit www.HealthLinkBC.ca for non-emergency health information from nurses, dietitians, and pharmacists 24/7.
- For deaf and hearing-impaired assistance (TTY), call 7-1-1.
- For non-urgent care, use community health services including making an appointment with your family practitioner
- Remember, flu season is upon us; check immunizebc.ca for clinic dates.
- If you have a cold, call HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1 for advice, or ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter medications to ease symptoms.
- If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control at 1-800-567-8911.