SFMH experiences increased ER volumes and anticipated wait times

Barry’s Bay and surrounding areas sees an annual influx of visitors over the summer months resulting in increased visits to the St. Francis Memorial Hospital (SFMH) Emergency Department (ED). Above: Joanne Plebon, RN. Photo submitted.

“The increased population in our area, as a popular summer cottage and vacation destination, leads to more accidents and injuries, more sick people, and increased patient volumes in the ED,” stated Greg McLeod, SFMH Chief Operating Officer.

This year, the higher volumes of patients have begun even earlier than previous years, noted McLeod.

The increased volume comes at a time when SFMH is already over occupancy with admitted patients. Patients being seen are sicker than in the past and many need to be admitted to the Emergency Department. With all of these factors added together, it means wait times to be seen in the ER have increased.

“We ask that patients recognize there may be a longer wait as we treat those with the most serious conditions first,” stated Dr. Jason Malinowski, SFMH Chief of Staff.

Alternatives for noncritical health concerns

Dr. Malinowski also advises that if you have a health concern that is not critical, please consider alternatives to the Emergency Department.

Those who are experiencing a low-urgency matter (for example, cough, cold, or ear, nose and throat symptoms) who do not have, or are unable to reach their family physician or primary care provider, are encouraged to call Renfrew County Virtual Triage & Assessment Centre (VTAC) at 1-844-727-6404 to access a VTAC family doctor for a virtual care appointment, by phone or video. This is usually offered on the same day, occasionally the next day following your call. Depending on the initial assessment, you may be asked to attend a VTAC clinical assessment centre in Pembroke, Renfrew or Arnprior to receive further in-person care from a community paramedic or family doctor.

Another alternative for non-urgent care is to call Health811, a 24/7, free and confidential service where you can speak to, or chat online with a registered nurse.

Always visit Emergency for urgent health concerns

Dr. Malinowski also noted that if a health concern is urgent, do not hesitate to call 911 or visit the Emergency Department. If you believe that you or someone with you is having a medical emergency such as a heart attack, stroke, reduced consciousness or major bleeding, then you should always contact emergency services by calling 911 or attending an emergency department.

“Our teams throughout the hospital work very hard and are dedicated to providing quality care,” stated McLeod. “No one likes increased wait times, so when you need to visit the hospital, please be courteous and respectful to staff and physicians.”

St.Francis Memorial Hospital(2024,June3) Increased ER volumes and anticipated wait times at St. Francis Memorial Hospital [media release]

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