A system backlog has put pressure on emergency rooms in Saskatoon’s three hospitals.

All three city hospitals are full at the moment, which has resulted in longer waits for patients in the emergency department who have been admitted for care and are waiting for a bed on an appropriate unit. Staff at all facilities are performing incredibly well under the circumstances, providing exemplary care to the large number of individuals seeking healthcare services at this time of year.

RR-2014-12-31-ER-pressureCorey Miller, Vice-President of Integrated Health Services, stated at a news conference on December 29 that some patients had been waiting up to 48 hours for admission to a unit.

 “We’re seeking the support of the community and people who are looking for health care to be mindful of our emergency departments and … if they do not require emergency care, to seek that care in the community in minor emergencies and in their primary health care physician’s office,” said Miller.

This means avoiding the emergency room for minor ailments like coughs or colds, or minor cuts or scrapes, or if you need a prescription refilled.  As those arriving at hospital emergency rooms are seen in order of the severity of their illness, wait times for those with non-urgent issues will be longer. It’s advised that patients who present with minor ailments seek alternative treatment at a medical clinic or with a family physician if at all possible.

Those experiencing a true emergency should not hesitate to seek help at an emergency department.  Those arriving at emergency with the following symptoms will receive priority treatment:

  • chest pain
  • stroke (signs and symptoms include: facial droop, arm weakness, slurred speech)
  • difficulty breathing
  • a large cut or wound
  • broken limbs
  • severe abdominal pain
  • sudden shortness of breath
  • sudden and severe headache.

Saskatoon Health Region will continue to move patients between the sites to ensure they are receiving timely care in an appropriate setting while balancing the needs of those patients waiting for a hospital bed. This may include moving triaged emergency patients to another facility if that facility is able to provide more timely care.

Those with non-emergency, health-related questions or concerns, can contact their health-care provider or the provincial HealthLine at 811. HealthLine staff can help you decide whether you should treat your own symptoms, go to a minor emergency clinic, wait to see your doctor, or go to a hospital emergency room.

A list of minor emergency and walk-in clinics is available at http://www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca under Quick Links.