Bluewater Health Prepares for Busy Holiday Season

Friday, November 29, 2019 - 11:58am

Things to consider to avoid Emergency Department visits and waits

The holiday season brings increased activity to hospitals – most notably in the Emergency Departments (ED). The busyness over the holidays is in part due to the flu season that grips the community along with limited holiday hours at community healthcare partners like doctors’ offices and walk-in clinics. During the holidays, over 300 patients visit Bluewater Health EDs in Sarnia and Petrolia per day. This is twice the normal daily average.  

No one likes to wait for care, so Bluewater Health has strategies in place within the hospitals and with local partners to prepare for the increase in the volume of people needing care. It is equally as important for the public at large to prepare as well.  

“Always call 911 right away if you or someone close to you is experiencing chest pain, stroke symptoms or an acute medical emergency,” says Dr. Chris Borek, Bluewater Health Medical Director - Emergency Medicine. “The ED is here for the sickest people in our community and we provide treatment of urgent illnesses and injuries in Sarnia and Petrolia 24 hours a day. That said, there are a few things people can do ahead of time to care for themselves and prevent the need for an unwanted hospital visit over the holidays.”

Holiday Healthcare Preparation:

  1. Call your primary care provider first! Your family doctor or nurse practitioner are your best care providers for non-emergencies including the common cold or UTI. They know your history, medications and are your best place for consistent healthcare.
  2. Make sure to refill your medication prescriptions before the holidays. If you run out during the holidays, contact your pharmacist to see if they can refill your prescription until you can see your primary care provider. Coming to the ED to refill your prescription can cause longer waits for everyone.
  3. Research alternative healthcare resources in the community including the holiday hours of your primary care provider and walk in clinics. Go to Bluewater Health’s new web page dedicated to Alternative Community Healthcare Providers/Resources or
  4. Get a flu shot to protect yourself and those around you.
  5. Visitors to Bluewater Health’s Emergency Departments in Sarnia and Petrolia will notice a new educational infographic poster on the best use of the ED. Check it out on Bluewater Health’s new web page Emergency Department vs. Walk in Clinic/Other – Where should I go?
  6. Proactively reach out to agencies or organizations you regularly associate with (example: Canadian Mental Health Association, Alzheimer’s Society, etc.) to see what services are available during the holidays should you need them.
  7. Are you a caregiver? Respite care, which is short term accommodation and temporary relief for those who are caring for a family member or loved one, may be available if needed. Call Home and Community Care at 1-888-447-4468.
  8. Telehealth Ontario is a free, confidential service that provides health advice or information. A Registered Nurse will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-866-797-0000.

The holidays often show an increase in mental health care use. There are a number of organizations able to help:

  • Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA): 519-337-5411 or call the Crisis Line at 519-336-3445 or
  • St. Clair Child and Youth: 519-337-3701
  • Family Counselling Centre: 519-336-0120 or call the Distress line (24 hours) at 519-336-3000 or 1-888-DISTRES (1-888-347-8737)
  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
  • Bluewater Health Withdrawal Management Services: 519-332-HOPE (4673)
  • Lambton Mental Health Wellness Centre: 519-344-5602
  • Home and Community Care, ESC LHIN: 519-337-1000 or 1-888-447-4468
  • Canadian Red Cross: 519-332-6380
  • Lambton Elderly Outreach (LEO): 519-845-1353
  • Lambton Public Health: 519-383-8331
  • Inn of the Good Shepherd: 519-344-1746
  • The Haven: 519-336-5941
  • The Good Shepherds Lodge: 519-344-1679
  • Salvation Army: 519-337-3011

Bluewater Health extends its wishes to the Sarnia-Lambton community for a healthy, safe and happy holiday season.

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