Holidays are a time when it can be difficult to get in to see your doctor if you’re unwell although more and more after-hours options have become available in Guelph. Still, many end up coming to hospital emergency departments which are always extra busy at this time of year. Dr. Ian Digby, Chief of Emergency at Guelph General Hospital is offering a common sense prescription to potential patients: Be Prepared!
“By being prepared, people can avoid an emergency visit completely or greatly improve their experience if they do need emergency care over the holidays,” Dr. Digby says.
To avoid a hospital visit, he suggests:
- Making sure everyone in your family has enough medications (both prescription and non-prescription) to get through the holidays
- Making sure all medical equipment (such as inhalers, respirators) is in good working order
- Asking your doctor’s office what back-up coverage they offer or recommend when they are closed, and find out where and when non-urgent medical care is being offered at local clinics. For example, the Guelph Family Health Team posts its After Hours Clinic times for its patients on its website.
- Know that Guelph now has a 24-hour pharmacy – Shoppers Drug Mart, 375 Eramosa Road.
- If you are unsure about your health condition, call TeleHealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) for free and confidential health advice
Not all visits will be avoidable and a high number of patients could lead to longer than usual wait times for non-urgent care, explains Kim Crawford, GGH’s Director of the Emergency Department.
“Our staff and physicians will do their best to see patients as quickly as possible but the department could be very busy,” Crawford says. “As always, patients will be seen by a doctor in an order that is based on the severity of their illness.”
If an emergency visit is necessary, Crawford offers this advice:
- Bring your OHIP card or other medical insurance information
- Bring a list or supply of your current medications
- If you have a new or worse cough or shortness of breath, put on a mask and use hand sanitizer when you arrive in the department. If you are feeling feverish, tell the receptionist or nurse right away.
- Bring only essential visitors with you as the ED is very busy and congested over the holiday period
- If you are bringing a child to the department, don’t forget diapers, blankets and other comfort items
“A visit to the emergency department is stressful at any time – but can be even more so during the holiday season,” says Crawford. “Being prepared will ensure a smoother visit, enabling our staff and physicians to provide the best care possible.”