February 4, 2009

When and How to Use an Emergency Department

If it is a serious emergency, always call 911. Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Service will take you to the most appropriate site. If you are not sure where to go, go the your nearest emergency and they will take care of you.

If it is less urgent here are a few facts to take into consideration:

Obstetrics: Any expectant mother experiencing a health issue should first try to contact her own doctor. However, they should be aware that Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg and St. Boniface General Hospital are the two sites that deliver babies and so are best equipped to handle these types of issues and so it would be best, if possible, to go to the site where she expected to deliver.

Cardiac: While any site will stabilize and deal with a patient suffering a cardiac event, St. Boniface General Hospital is the city's Cardiac Centre and the site where all cardiac surgery takes place.

Burns and Trauma: Again while all sites can handle minor burns and traumas, HSC is the Provincial Trauma and Burn Centre that has the experts and equipment necessary to deal with the most serious of these injuries. Any patient with a serious burn and/or trauma who arrives at another site, will be transferred to HSC.

Children's: Health Sciences Centre's Children's Emergency is staffed with a health care team specifically trained in dealing with children's emergencies.

Musculo‑Skeletal Injuries: More commonly known as breaks, bumps and bruises, all sites are equipped to deal with these. However, in a busy emergency department such injuries would be considered non‑urgent.

Misericordia Health Centre's Urgent Care (open 24/7) and the Pan Am Minor Injury Clinic (Mon to Fri  8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sat, Sun and holidays 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.) are both other alternatives to busy Emergency Departments in these cases. Both handle non life‑threatening illnesses or injuries; Pan Am Clinic has a particular expertise in musculo‑skeletal issues.

Finally, if you are not sure where to go, call Health Links - Info Santé at 788‑8200 (toll free 1-888-315-9257). Trained nurses will be able to answer all your questions.

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