Frequently Asked Questions

Why do some people go in ahead of me when I arrived before they did?

All patients arriving in the Emergency Department, whether they arrive by ambulance or by their own transportation, will be triaged by a specially trained nurse. While you are being triaged, the nurse will ask a series of questions to help determine the severity of your illness/injury. If necessary, they will also provide initial first aid for your injury, obtain orders for some bloodwork, an electrocardiogram or an x-ray to help the healthcare provider figure out the cause for your illness, or they may give you some medication to help you feel better before you see the healthcare provider. This triage system allows patients to be seen according to the severity of their illness and ensures that the sickest patients are seen first. While waiting, if you have questions or you feel your condition has become worse, please let the triage nurse know right away.

If I take an ambulance to the Emergency Department will I be seen by a healthcare provider sooner?

Not necessarily. If you feel your illness/injury is serious and you need medical attention immediately, call 911 and get help right away, but remember, all ambulance patients are triaged the same as if you came in by another means of transportation. If the triage nurse determines that your illness/injury is critical and you don’t require immediate medical attention, you will be asked to wait in the waiting room so that we can see the sickest patients first. While waiting, if you have questions or you feel your condition has become worse, please let the triage nurse know right away.

I asked the wait time when I called or arrived at the Emergency Department and no one will tell me how long I will have to wait. Why can’t the nurses give me this information?

The Emergency Department is a very unpredictable place. It is difficult to give you a wait time on the phone or when you speak to the triage nurse because a sick patient can arrive at any moment requiring the team to be very busy for a long time. We don’t like to provide estimates on the time you will wait because we don’t want to disappoint you if we can’t meet those times and we can’t predict when a sick patient will come in causing a longer wait.  If you need to be seen in the Emergency Department please be patient with us. We are trying to give the best possible care to the patients that are the sickest first. Please keep in mind that the wait times will fluctuate depending on volume and the severity of the patients we are seeing in the department. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Wait Times

Infographic - When should I go to the ED?

Our goal is for every patient to see a doctor within two hours of arrival. However, sometimes we can’t meet this goal because of high patient volumes, or a number of very sick patients need intense or life-saving treatment. We understand that it can be frustrating to wait, but rest assured that we are working as hard as we can to see you in a timely manner.

Call your primary care provider first! Your family doctor or nurse practitioner are the best care providers for non-emergencies including the common cold, an ingrown toe nail or a UTI. They know your history and medications, and are your best place for consistent healthcare. If you cannot reach your primary care provider click here for a list of Alternative Healthcare Providers/Resources in our community.

The waiting room is practically empty and yet I still have to wait. Why do I have to wait when there is no one here?

It may appear that there are no patients waiting to be seen and yet you still have to wait. We understand this is frustrating. Often times, the Emergency Department team is helping very sick patients in the department that have arrived by ambulance (an area that can’t be seen from the waiting room) or by other transportation. Please try and be patient. We will do our best to see you as quickly as we can. While waiting, if you have questions or you feel your condition has become worse, please let the triage nurse know right away.

My loved one has been brought into the Emergency Department by ambulance. How can I get in to see them?

It is a very frightening time when a loved one is brought to the Emergency Department. We are here to help. Please let the triage nurse or registration clerk know when you arrive that your loved one has been brought in. They will do their best to bring you back to see them right away. Sometimes this is not possible and you will be asked to wait for a few moments while the team is helping your loved one. We will bring you to see them as quickly as we can.  

While you are waiting:

  • If your condition changes and you begin to feel worse, tell the triage nurse at once.
  • Do not leave the department without telling the triage nurse.  It is important that your illness or condition be assessed before you leave.
  • Do not eat or drink anything until you ask the triage nurse.  Some tests cannot be done if you have eaten.
  • Have only one friend or family member wait with you.  It will be less stressful for you and the waiting area will be less crowded.  You may have to wait a long time to be treated so, if possible, you may want to leave small children at home in someone else’s care.
  • You are not allowed to use your cell phone in certain areas of the hospital. Please do not use a cell phone in areas where these signs are posted.  To protect and respect the privacy of other patients, please do not use your cell phone to take pictures or make audio/video recordings while in the hospital.

What will happen while I am being treated?

  • Specially trained emergency doctors and nurses will work together to take care of you.  You may also see student Doctors and Nurses, Personal Support Workers or a Specialist. 
  • Your blood pressure, temperature and heart rate may be checked, and blood and urine samples may be taken.  Other tests may also be done while you are here.  It will sometimes take up to 2 hours to get the results from these tests and for the doctors to make decisions about your treatment.
  • One family member or friend may stay with you while you are being treated.

What happens if I am admitted to hospital?

The Emergency physician will consult a specialist if they feel you need to be admitted to the hospital.  The type of specialist or consultant depends on your illness.  You will be admitted to the hospital and our goal is to get you to your bed as soon as possible.  There are times when there are no beds available on a specific unit and you may need to stay in the Emergency Department.  We will do our best to ensure you are well cared for during your extended stay in the Emergency Department and will follow all of the orders provided by the consultant/specialist.

What happens if I am discharged?

  • Make sure to ask questions about your illness or condition and about any treatment required while the doctor is in the room with you.  If you need a note for work, ask while the doctor is in the room. Some doctors charge a fee for doctor’s notes.  If you are unsure about what you are to do, ask the staff to explain it again.
  • Follow the directions that the staff give you.  You may forget important information so have them write it down for you. 
  • There are often educational pamphlets available which can help to explain your illness.  When you are being discharged, ask if there is more information. 
  • If you have questions or concerns after you get home, call Bluewater Health Sarnia at 519-464-4400 (ext. 5211) or Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital (CEEH) at 519-882-4325 (ext. 2430)
  • Write down the dates for any follow-up appointments and make sure you keep them.  It is important that you continue to have your illness or condition treated. 
  • Contact your primary care provider.  It is important for them to remain informed about your illness so that he or she can continue to treat you.  If you ask us to, we will send a report of your visit to your primary care provider. 

What are some other options for healthcare in the area if I don’t want to come to the Emergency Department?

Click here to view a list of Alternative Healthcare Providers/Resources in our community including Family Health Teams, Community Health Centres, Telehealth Ontario, walk in clinics and family doctors accepting new patients.

Maps & Directions

Bluewater Health’s programs and services are distributed across two locations, Bluewater Health in Sarnia and Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital of Bluewater Health in Petrolia. 

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Emergency Care

Bluewater Health’s Emergency Department (ED) provides safe, quality emergency nursing and medical care to patients.

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Mental Health & Addictions Help

If you or a loved one needs support with mental health or addictions.

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Compliments & Concerns

We are always looking for ways to improve, and welcome your questions, comments, suggestions and concerns. If you’re in hospital, please speak to the hospital staff.

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Locate a Patient

Find or contact a patient by telephone, email or e-card.

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