[NORTH BAY, ON] – Thursday, the North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) issued an emergency department (ED) wait time alert for July and August. The health centre continues to see higher than average patient volumes, combined with ongoing health human resource and capacity pressures, resulting in longer wait times for care in our ED.
Hospitals across the province are facing similar challenges, as visits to the ED increase during the summer.
“Summer can be a very busy time for the ED, when individuals are put at a higher risk of injury due to an increase in popular outdoor activities and an influx of people visiting northern Ontario,” explains Dr. Lisa Harman, Medical Director for the Emergency Department. “These factors, coupled with ongoing staff and physician shortages, means we are operating above capacity and seeing double digit wait times (over 10 hours) in our emergency department.”
When patients first arrive at the ED, the sickest—or most emergent—patients are seen first. Patients who come in with an issue that is not urgent will be triaged accordingly. And when volumes are as high as they have been, unfortunately that means wait times for lower acuity care goes up.
Dr. Harman acknowledges it can be frustrating to wait when volumes are high, but staff try to see patients as soon as they can. “We want to help you, we want to be there for you,” she says. “We will provide the fastest quality care that we can, but please be aware that it is busy in the ED and things can change minute to minute.”
Know your health care options: how our community can help
Patients who do have access to a primary care provider (family doctor or nurse practitioner) are encouraged to book a visit for non-urgent care, or attend one of the community walk-in clinics.
Seek health-related advice from a registered nurse by calling Health Connect Ontario, 24/7 at 811 or chatting online.
Book an appointment to speak to your local pharmacist. Some pharmacists in Ontario can now assess for 13 minor illnesses or conditions (urinary tract infection, cold sore, pink eye, tick bites, skin rashes).
For mental health concerns, call the crisis line at 1-800-352-1141.
For non-urgent care that requires an ED visit, explore other emergency services.
Visit NBRHC’s wait time tracker to familiarize yourself with the current time to see a physician. Peak time is usually Sunday to Tuesday with the longest wait times occurring in the afternoon to early evening.
For critical or life-threatening conditions that need immediate attention, continue to call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency department.