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St. Francis staff clarify use of emergency department as summer gets underway

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As summer is in full swing, St. Francis Memorial Hospital staff is urging people to know when they should use their emergency department.

Staff say there is an uptick in patients during the summer months. These include an influx of people in cottages and campgrounds, more elderly patients with complex medical issues, and increased incidents due to summer activity and travel. In addition, hospitals have seen an increase in people who have delayed seeking medical attention due to the pandemic, or patients who have recently lost their physicians due to retirement. This is made worse by a shortage of healthcare staff, especially in rural hospitals, which often leads to burnout.

In order to make sure the hospital stays in good working order, staff at St. Francis say to use the emergency department for what it was designed for, and not as a walk-in clinic. Those who are suffering from chest pains, respiratory distress, broken bones, laceration, accidents, new neurological symptoms, uncontrolled bleeding, loss of consciousness or physical trauma should visit the emergency room.

They are also urging people to use the most appropriate hospital for care, and not to travel to other hospitals hoping to take advantage of decreased wait times. Hospital staff say this will add to the burden in their emergency department, and patients will still wait up to 5 hours for non-emergency services. They also say verbal and physical aggression towards staff will not be tolerated.

For non-urgent care, they suggest contacting their family physician, dialling Health Connect Ontario at 811, or calling the Renfrew County Virtual Triage (RC VTAC) at 1-844-727-6404.

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