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Sick or injured? Know your health care options this holiday season

During the holidays, hospital emergency departments can become overcrowded resulting in extra-long wait times.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… unless you’re urgently in need of health care. During the holidays, a combination of factors often leads to overcrowded hospital emergency departments and extra-long wait times, a phenomenon known as “Winter Surge.”

“It’s cold and flu season, slips and falls become more common as streets and sidewalks get icy, and hectic holiday schedules can wreak havoc with regular appointments or treatment plans,” said Dr. Afshin Khazei, emergency department doctor and medical director of urgent and primary care centres in Vancouver and North Vancouver. “Unfortunately, it’s also when health-care clinics and doctors’ offices may be offering reduced hours during the holidays.”

To help patients choose the right care at the right place this winter, Vancouver Coastal Health has kicked off a holiday care campaign in partnership with the Vancouver Division of Family Practice, Providence Health Care, Doctors of BC, the British Columbia Pharmacy Association and LifeLabs. The message? While emergency departments are always open, that doesn’t mean they’re the best place to seek treatment.

“January can be a very busy time in the emergency department with more people experiencing things like the flu and respiratory issues. These increased volumes can mean longer waits to see a doctor and to move from a stretcher in emergency to a bed on a ward,” said Claudia Friess, Corporate Director, Acute Care, Providence Health Care. “Choosing the best place for you to receive your care means wait times will probably be shorter and emergency care will be available to those who really need it.”

So what should you do if you have a health concern this holiday season? Check out the poster below to learn how to choose the right place for care (click for a larger image).

Urgent and Primary Care Centres provide non-emergency care

Last year, in partnership with the Vancouver Division of Family Practice, Providence Health Care, Doctors of BC and Seymour Health, Vancouver Coastal Health opened the City Centre Urgent Primary Care Centre in downtown Vancouver. Early this November, VCH opened a second UPCC, located in North Vancouver.

City Centre Urgent Primary Care Centre
1290 Hornby Street, Ground Floor
Vancouver, B.C. V6Z 0A3

North Vancouver Urgent and Primary Care Centre
Suite 200 – 221 West Esplanade, 2nd Floor
North Vancouver, B.C. V7L 1A5

Related story: New clinics direct patients to the right care at the right time in the right place

These centres offer more health care options for same-day, non-life-threatening conditions for when people are unable to see their primary care provider (family doctor or nurse practitioner). With the most urgent clients seen and cared for first, UPCCs will provide care for those experiencing injuries and illnesses such as: sprains and strains; cuts, wounds or skin conditions; high fever; infections, including chest, ear and urinary tract; asthma attacks; new or worsening pain; dehydration/constipation; and less serious child illness and injury.

This story was adapted from a Vancouver Coastal Health news release, which you can read here.

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