Staying Healthy and Knowing Care Options Key to Avoiding Trips to the Emergency Department This Season




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                           


The winter season brings increased demand for health services in tandem with holiday closures between Christmas and New Year’s. Influenza and seasonal injuries such as fractures drive this surge, leading to longer than usual waits for healthier patients, or those who don’t require immediate emergency care. Knowing where to go for care is key this time of year, especially with the early start to flu season, which may leave hospitals at, or over, capacity.


“By taking steps to stay healthy and by being prepared, people can avoid a non-essential emergency visit completely or greatly improve their experience if they need care over the holidays,” says Dr. Amit Shah, South West Local Health Integration Network Emergency Department Lead. “This helps to decrease the strain on the health care system, and also decreases your risk of contracting another illness while at the hospital.”


Simple actions like getting a free flu shot, ensuring that you have all your prescriptions refilled before the holidays, and washing your hands often can help you stay healthy. More tips to help you stay healthier this holiday season are available at


Easy-to-access information on non-emergency medical services


We encourage members of the public to access when they are looking for help with non-emergency medical issues over the holidays. is a free, comprehensive on-line resource featuring up-to-date information on services available for non-emergency medical needs across communities in southwestern Ontario.


A public awareness campaign #KnowWhereToGo has been launched to promote the site’s Holiday Hours page which features resources that are open and available during statutory holidays including: crisis intervention assistance; Telehealth Ontario – available 24/7 by dialing 1-866-797-0000 for free, quick and easy confidential health education and advice from a registered nurse; medical walk-in clinics; community pharmacies with extended hours; and, urgent care services.


“The holidays are a particularly busy time for everyone,” states Dr. Gordon Schacter, South West LHIN, London Middlesex Clinical Lead. “The is a wonderful tool for patients who have health needs but are unsure of where to go. This central resource provides information on a range of options – often more appropriate options – in the patient’s local community.”


Do you know where to go if you are feeling sick over the holidays?


The South West LHIN will also be conducting a Twitter survey which asks, “Did you know shows what’s open if you’re feeling sick and need a pharmacist, doctor, or other health support over the holidays?” The South West LHIN will use the survey results to see if public awareness improves as the flu seasons unfolds.


The South West LHIN has also been working with Health Service Providers across the region to ensure patient care is optimized during the winter season. Public demand for Emergency Department care in the South West during the winter holiday season has increased by 49 per cent over the past six years. Recognizing the increased number of Emergency Department visits during the holidays, the LHIN is again launching its holiday surge protocol – developed in collaboration with primary care providers and acute care hospitals – which will be key to managing the increased number of patients that find themselves in Emergency Departments.





For more information:

Dan Brennan

Communications Advisor, South West LHIN