HSC warns of overcrowded children’s ER
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Health Sciences Centre staff are again asking the public to consider alternative care options for children amid a rise in patients with cold- and flu-like symptoms.
Patient volumes at the downtown Children’s Hospital emergency department are surging, with visits up nearly 26 per cent from October and 46 per cent compared to this time last year, HSC announced in a tweet Tuesday.
“Several cases of patients testing positive for multiple respiratory viruses have been recorded, resulting in a high number of patients needing to be admitted,” the social media message said, urging the public to consider bringing less-severely sick and injured children to other facilities, including walk-in clinics and urgent care centres.
The hospital identified children experiencing difficulty breathing, extreme fatigue and inability to consume fluids as the highest priority and in need of immediate emergency care.
“If your child’s needs are less urgent, you can expect a longer wait as we care for the sickest patients first.”
The tweet included links to resources parents can use to determine the severity of a child’s symptoms and where they may best be treated. Wait times for walk-in clinics, urgent care and emergency departments are available online.
According an online tracker provided by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, 40 patients were waiting for treatment in HSC Children’s emergency department by 6 p.m. Tuesday, with expected wait times at six hours.
Estimates from urgent care centres were not much better, with the Concordia, Seven Oaks General and Victoria General hospitals all reporting wait times around five hours.
The WRHA announced in September all five of its Walk-In Connected Care Clinics — where people can seek care from nurse practitioners, registered nurses and physicians assistants — would open evenings and weekends, starting in November. Of those, one was closed and three were reporting reduced capacity and asking patients to call ahead Tuesday evening.
It is the second time in recent weeks HSC has publicly urged parents of sick children to reconsider whether their child needs emergency care.
On Oct. 27, WRHA and HSC officials held a joint news conference to release the ER wait times for the month of September.
HSC Children’s emergency department had an average of 139.5 patients per day in September, up nearly 11 per cent year-over-year.
Of those, nearly half had low-acuity concerns that could have been appropriately treated by a primary care provider or at a walk-in clinic, Dr. Shawn Young, HSC chief operating officer, said at the time.
“I’ve been a front-line physician for over 20 years in the acute care system,” he said. “None of us has been prepared to deal with the challenges we are currently seeing.”
The hospital and health authority continue to work on improving patient flow throughout the health-care system, but it will take time, officials said.
Updated on Tuesday, November 8, 2022 7:45 PM CST: Levels of wait times clarified