Gray Bruce Health Services says ER wait times are getting longer

Owen Sound Regional Hospital. (Photo by Nathan Shubert)

Gray Bruce Health Services issued a reminder to the community stating that ’emergency services are for urgent health issues’.

It comes as the hospital corporation, which operates six hospital sites in the region, says it is seeing an increase in wait times in its emergency departments.

Gray Bruce Health Services says, “Many patients arrive with minor health issues that do not require urgent care. To reduce ER wait times and ensure critical patients receive the care they need, the public is encouraged to seek alternatives to the ER for minor health issues.

Owen Sound Emergency Department Chief Dr. Sunil Mehta says, “Our Emergency Departments are busier than usual and, like Ontario hospitals, many of our departments are understaffed.” , adding: “If you have a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately. If you have a minor problem that can be treated by your family doctor, please try this option first.

They say people with minor issues could wait several hours.

GBHS says if you have a minor issue that doesn’t require immediate attention, there are phone and virtual options.

Ontario Health Access – formerly Telehealth, is a provincially operated 24/7 telephone line where patients can speak directly to a nurse for advice. Health Access Ontario can be reached by calling 8-1-1 and, if in doubt, nurses can help determine if an emergency room visit is recommended.

Virtual visits with a GBHS doctor are also available every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The hospital corporation says, “Virtual emergency care is a great option for those who need to see a doctor but can’t get in to see their family doctor or aren’t sick enough to get to a emergency service.”

Users must have a phone or other device with audio and video capability to connect with the doctor. In most cases, virtual care is faster than waiting in the emergency room. Patients of all ages can use this free program, with children under 18 requiring an adult to register.

Patients must first register online on the GBHS website before getting a virtual appointment: https://www.gbhs.on.ca/virtual-urgent-care/

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