Island Health asks for public’s assistance in appropriate emergency department use

Island Health is asking people to do their part to ensure our hospital emergency departments can continue to meet the care needs of patients experiencing medical emergencies.

While we continue to see an increase in patient volumes due to the extreme record-breaking heat wave, we are also approaching July 1st which is typically one of the busiest days for emergency room visits.

“When people use our emergency departments wisely it goes a long way in helping dedicated emergency room physicians, nurses and clinical staff provide timely, quality care to patients who truly need emergency care,” said Dr. Ben Williams, Vice President, Medicine, Quality and Chief Medical Executive at Island Health. “Your support is more important now than ever as these care teams work through an unprecedented heat wave on the heels of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

While emergencies are unavoidable, some simple steps to avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital emergency room include:

  • If you need non-urgent care, book an appointment with your family doctor or visit a walk-in clinic or urgent primary care centre;
  • Take precautions to avoid heat-related illness, such as:
    • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and drink water before you feel thirsty;
    • Wear sunscreen, a hat and loose fitting clothing;
    • Avoid liquids that contain alcohol, caffeine or large amounts of sugar;
    • Seek cooler, breezier areas when outdoors;
    • Take it slow with outdoor activities, especially during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
    • Learn more about heat safety tips here
  • Wash your hands frequently to avoid getting sick and spreading germs;
  • See your doctor before the weekend and/or holidays, if necessary, to avoid long wait-times in the Emergency Department;
  • Note the weekend and holiday hours of your local pharmacy/drug store, and ensure your prescriptions are up to date;
  • Make sure you have basic pharmaceuticals on hand to control adult and children’s fever and pain;
  • Become familiar with walk-in clinic locations in your area, and their hours of operation;
  • Wear a seatbelt when operating or riding in a motor vehicle;
  • Don’t drink and drive; and
  • Wear the right footwear to avoid falling or slipping.

Should you feel you or someone in your care is in need of emergency medical treatment do not hesitate to go to the Emergency Department or call 911. If you are unsure about whether Emergency Department care is needed, call HealthLink BC at 811 to speak to a nurse, 24 hours a day.