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SMH Emergency Department Experiencing High Volumes

[New Tecumseth, ON – July 20, 2022] – At one month into the summer, Stevenson Memorial Hospital (SMH) is experiencing record high volume in its Emergency Department. With a growing community population, increased cases of COVID-19 locally, health human resource challenges and limited options for in-person care during evenings and weekends (amongst ED closures and redirects at other hospitals), wait times have been impacted at the hospital.

SMH reached a record of 152 patients in one day in May and it has been close since then. The daily average number of patients per day has grown at 105 and is now higher than it was during this time of year in 2019 (pre-COVID-19).

“Our staff have been working incredibly hard not only over the past few months, but years with the onset of the pandemic and they are tired, but we are doing everything we can as an important health care resource to remain open for our community,” says Julia Sek, VP Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive, SMH. “Wait times are increasing, so it’s important that the community understands the triage process, as well as making the most optimal choice for accessing care based on their medical needs,” she adds.

As always, anyone experiencing severe symptoms of illness, serious or life-threatening health concerns, please visit the nearest Emergency Department or call 911.

Other examples of when to visit the Emergency Department/call 911 include (but not limited to):

  • Broken bone
  • Serious burn
  • Seizures/convulsions
  • Confusion/distortion
  • Chest pain/tightness/heart attack
  • Eye or head injury
  • High fever
  • Baby under 3 months with fever
  • Uncontrolled/severe bleeding
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Stroke symptoms (difficulty with speaking, raising arm/leg)

Patients are triaged when they come to the Emergency Department and are seen based on urgent need, which the triage nurse assesses. It is not first-come first-served. Some patients are more ill or injured and need to be seen prior to others. Please be patient and kind with staff as they are working very hard to manage this process and the care of many patients.

Primary Care

If you have a family physician/primary care provider, it’s best to contact them to receive care for less severe symptoms or non life-threatening or emergent issues. These include (not limited to) cold and flu symptoms, sprains, rashes/skin conditions and urinary tract infections. It is also important to visit your family physician for prescription renewals instead of coming to the Emergency Department for this need. Pharmacies can support some renewals (please contact your pharmacy to confirm).

Stevenson Memorial Hospital’s COVID, Cold & Flu Clinic continues to be available for individuals with worsening symptoms or concerns related to COVID-19 or flu. The Clinic operates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1-5 p.m. Call (249) 501-0383 to book a same-day appointment (phone line opens at 7 a.m. on operating days).

Virtual Options

There are a number of virtual options available for anyone with less severe medical concerns, involving seeing a medical professional online or speaking with them over the phone. All help individuals avoid waiting rooms in clinics and hospital settings.

Examples include (but not limited to):

  • Telehealth Ontario is a free, confidential telephone service at 1-866-797-0000 or 1-866-797-0007 (TTY) providing you with access to experienced health advice or general health information from a Registered Nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The following services involving speaking to a doctor and include general consultations, prescription renewals, sick notes/forms, mental health concerns and more. These are covered by OHIP including, but not limited to:

The list above is not an endorsement of these companies by SMH.

Mental Health Resources

SMH’s Mary McGill Community Mental Health program provides outpatient mental health services including individual and group counselling services to anyone in need aged 16 years-old and up. All support/counselling groups are being offered virtually at this time. Additional community resources are also listed on our mental health services web page.

Other Health Care Resources:

Kids Health: