Tips to avoid busy ERs during holidays in Oakville, Milton, Halton Hills

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Published December 13, 2023 at 3:37 pm

No one wants to head to the emergency department over the holidays, so Halton Healthcare has put together a checklist to help you stay healthy in Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills.

It’s no secret that hospital emergency departments get busier this time of year, especially with respiratory illnesses making their rounds.

“We prioritize patients based on the severity of their conditions rather than time of arrival. This means those with life-threatening conditions like head injuries, seizures, extensive bleeding, or cardiac events will be seen first,” said Dr. Kelly Williams, Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Georgetown Hospital.

“During peak times, patients could face many hours of waiting, especially if their conditions are not deemed medical emergencies.”

Understanding the available healthcare options in the community during the holidays can help our emergency medicine teams focus on those patients who are experiencing genuine medical emergencies.

“No one wants to come to the hospital during the holidays. Take care of your healthcare needs now before the season gets hectic so you can fully enjoy the festivities,” said Dr. Salman Khalid, Medical Director, Emergency Department, Milton District Hospital. “Plan to renew your prescriptions in advance, stock up on all your medical supplies and get up to date on all of your vaccinations.”

If you do have to come to the emergency department, make sure you bring your Ontario Health Card, all your medications and your healthcare information. If you are coming with a baby or a child, don’t forget to stock up your baby bag with diapers, bottles, blankets, comfort items and toys or activities to keep them busy.

As an added option, you can also check the estimated wait times to see a medical provider in the emergency department at each of the community hospitals on Halton Healthcare’s website.

Here are some of the things you can do to be ready for health and the holidays:

  • Know when your family doctor or nurse practitioner’s office will be open and schedule any important medical appointments before the holidays
  • Locate your closest walk-in clinic and check their holiday hours
  • Know your pharmacy’s holiday hours, renew your prescriptions before the holidays and find out about your pharmacist’s expanded prescribing options
  • Update your medication list
  • Stock up your home emergency kit and first aid kit
  • Stock up on your medical supplies and make sure all medical equipment, such as inhalers, respirators, and glucometers are in good working order
  • Get the flu shot and your COVID-19 vaccinations and follow all the COVID-19 precautions
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