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Health authority hopes to reduce non-urgent trips to the ER during holidays

After last year’s busy holiday season for emergency departments (EDs), Vancouver Coastal Health is asking patients to make sure they really need to see the ED for non-urgent issues and to help keep things less busy.

In a news release, the health authority says “while it is important to visit the emergency department (ED) for emergent health issues, non-life-threatening urgent and non-urgent conditions can often be effectively managed by urgent primary care centres (UPCCs), family doctors, walk-in clinics or other services.”

During last year’s season, VCH says EDs had over 30,000 visits. However, one-third of the cases turned out to be non-urgent.

“Hospitals continue to follow rigorous [Covid 19] infection prevention and control guidelines ensuring they are a safe place to receive emergent care throughout the pandemic,” said Dr. Eric Grafstein, regional head of Emergency Medicine at VCH and Providence Health Care.

While VCH says EDs should be visited for emergencies only, they still say not to put off getting care.

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“The holiday season is no exception to our consistent advice year-round: never delay seeking treatment or care as it can worsen your condition,” said Grafstein.

“Any life-threatening conditions, including suspected stroke or heart attack, poisoning or overdose, major trauma, head injury with loss of consciousness, among others, are best managed in a hospital setting.”

Five UPCCs are located in VCH communities. The authority says they have the ability to provide care for sprains and strains, cuts, wounds and skin conditions.

Patients who are unsure where to get care can call 811 for general health guidance, according to VCH.

To find a UPCC near your community, visit the VCH website.

READ MORE: Canada advising against non-essential international travel for the next month

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