The North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) is warning patients they may be in for longer wait times than usual for the next few months.
In a news release Thursday, hospital officials said people visiting the emergency department (ED) with non-urgent conditions should expect delays in both July and August.
The centre said it is seeing higher than average patient volumes along with ongoing human resource and capacity pressures have resulted in longer wait times in the ED.
“When patients first arrive at the ED, the sickest – or most emergent – patients are seen first,” reads the release.
“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.”
The message comes as other hospitals across the region and the province have reported similar challenges.
“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,” said Dr. Lisa Harman, the director of the ED at NBRHC, in the release.
“These factors, coupled with ongoing staff and physician shortages, means we are operating above capacity and seeing double-digit wait times in our emergency department.”
Harman said she knows it can be frustrating to wait when volumes are high – but staff see patients as soon as they can.
“We want to help you, we want to be there for you,” she said.
“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.”
Additionally, the centre said it is important for people to know about their care options.
Patients who do have access to a primary care provider such as a family doctor or nurse practitioner are encouraged to book a visit for non-urgent care, or attend one of the region’s walk-in clinics.
NBRHC has an online wait time tracker available to allow patients to see the current estimated wait time to see a physician – officials advise that peak wait times are usually experienced from Sunday to Tuesday with the longest wait times occurring from afternoon to early evening.
Staff says for critical or life-threatening conditions that need immediate attention, continue to call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest emergency department.