“If you have an emergency, we want to see you.”

Emergency departments provide the best care for patients in an emergency situation, and Saskatoon Health Region wants to ensure that those experiencing emergencies are coming in for help.

“In the past, when our emergency rooms have experienced high volumes of visits, we’ve encouraged people to think about whether it’s the best service for them, depending on their need. But what has happened is that some people who are experiencing a real emergency – symptoms of heart attack, stroke, or other serious illnesses – may not be coming in as they should,” says Dr. James Stempien, head of emergency medicine for the three Saskatoon hospitals.  “We want to ensure that those who need help right away come to see us.”

To accomplish this, Saskatoon’s emergency departments have changed their messaging. If you believe you need immediate help, they want you to find an emergency room (ER).  Once you’re there, you will be assessed, triaged and provided with the care you need.

“The bottom line is, if you think you need our help immediately, you need to come to the Emergency room,” said Stempien. “We trust our patients. If you think you have a medical emergency, the ER is the best place to have you treated. Emergencies will be treated quickly and efficiently by our ER staff.”

If you aren’t sure if you’re experiencing an emergency, or feel your situation is minor, there are other options for service, such as family physicians or walk-in clinics that can handle your situation.   Calling 8-1-1, the Saskatchewan Health Line, can help you decide whether you should go to the emergency room, or seek help from one of these other services.

A nursing triage station.

Patients coming into emergency rooms in Saskatoon Health Region are triaged and treated according to the urgency of care they need.

What is triaging? And why do you need it?

At most walk-in clinics, people see the doctor in the order in which they arrive and register. But when you go to the emergency room, you are triaged when you register.

Triaging is the process of determining the priority of a patient’s treatment based on the severity of their condition.  For example, someone coming in with chest pain will be treated before someone in need of minor stitches.

This means that if you come in with a life-threatening illness or injury requiring immediate treatment, you will see a doctor quickly.

However, it also means that if you are triaged as a non-emergent patient, you might have a long wait ahead of you, as others with more serious health concerns will move ahead of you in line.