ED wait times increase as more patients present with seasonal illnesses
(Peterborough, ON) – The number of patients being seen in the Emergency Department (ED) at Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) has risen from about 220 to 260 per day in recent weeks.
Approximately 20 per cent of these ED visits are patients presenting with respiratory symptoms, and this number is steadily increasing.
"We are seeing a substantial rise in the number of patients through the ED, which results in significantly longer wait times for patients" says Dr. Mark Troughton, Chief and Medical Director of the Emergency Department at PRHC. "This is a trend currently being seen throughout the region and across the province."
Since the beginning of December, PRHC has seen a 50 per cent increase in the number of patients who require additional precautions for flu-like illness and/or vomiting and diarrhea. The hospital’s need for isolation beds has also doubled in the past month.
Although the number of lab-confirmed influenza (flu) cases in the community continues to rise, there are many other types of respiratory viruses circulating. Since December 21, PRHC has provided molecular rapid flu testing in-house. Of 63 flu tests performed on hospital patients, only 11 were positive for influenza.
"We have seen a major increase in pediatric patients with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), a number of whom have been admitted to the hospital for treatment," adds Dr. Troughton.
In partnership with the Family Health Team and Peterborough Public Health, the Health Centre would like to remind patients to consider the options available to them before deciding where to seek healthcare.
"All patients with severe flu-like symptoms should always go the emergency room for care," says Dr. Troughton. "Patients with mild symptoms can stay home and rest, while patients with moderate symptoms can visit their family doctor."
This infographic can help you decide whether you should seek care at the ED.
The Peterborough Family Health Team reminds the community that family practitioners at clinics in the city and county offer same-day appointments and extended-hours clinics. They encourage residents to consider these options before visiting PRHC's Emergency Department.
"The Peterborough Family Health Team is here to care for you and your family, so please contact your doctor's office to find out what is available to you," says Dr. Kaetlen Wilson, Medical Director for the Family Health Team.
If you determine that your medical situation does not require a visit to the ED, please consider the following options:
While the Pediatric (POP) Urgent Care Clinic at PRHC has also seen an increase in patient volumes, it continues to offer after-hours care for patients under the age of 18 with urgent but non-life-threatening illnesses. For more information and clinic hours:
Peterborough Public Health reminds the public that the current flu strain matches well with this year's vaccine. With flu activity expected to last well into February, it's not too late to get the shot from your local pharmacy, doctor's office or walk-in clinic. For more information, visit the Flu Clinic Locator at www.ontario.ca/flu.
For more information:
Brittany Cadence, Communications ManagerPeterborough Public HealthTel: 705-743-1000, ext. 391
Renee Oortwyn, Operations AssistantPeterborough Family Health TeamTel: 705-749-1564, ext. 316
Michelene Ough, Communications LeadPeterborough Regional Health CentreTel: 705-743-2121, ext. 4259
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