SURREY – A new campaign aiming to reduce congestion in emergency departments has contributed to a decrease in non-emergency visits to Peace Arch Hospital by more than 1,100 visits in its first year. With up to 40 per cent of visits to Fraser Health Emergency Departments representing non-emergency health care concerns, the successful Use the ER Wisely program is now expanding to Chilliwack and Mission this month, with plans to target additional communities later in 2017.
“Government and the health authorities are committed to easing congestion at emergency departments throughout the province,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “The success in reduction of non-emergency visits at Peace Arch Hospital is a perfect example of the work we are doing in conjunction with our with partners to raise awareness and help address less urgent health concerns at the community level.”
“It is important for our patients to know that when they have a non-emergency ailment, they have options available to them beyond the emergency department, including a same-day appointment in a local clinic,” says Dr. Grace Park, family physician, White Rock-South Surrey Division of Family Practice. “Delivering the right care to our patients in the right place is important because we know the treatment of non-emergency health concerns in a community setting helps strengthen the relationship between a person and their physician.”
Use the ER Wisely uses posters and signage throughout the White Rock-South Surrey community to direct patients to doctors’ offices and walk-in clinics for non-emergency health care needs, ultimately helping to ease the volume of patients presenting to Peace Arch Hospital’s Emergency Department. The White Rock-South Surrey Division of Family Practice partnered with Fraser Health and the Peace Arch Hospital Foundation to launch the program in December 2015. The campaign aims to help people avoid unnecessary visits to the emergency department by raising awareness and understanding of primary health care services available in that community.
“Use the ER Wisely has significantly reduced the number of non-emergency visits to Peace Arch Hospital’s Emergency Department over the past year,” said Dr. Neil Barclay, Fraser Health regional medical director, emergency medicine. “The successful expansion of this campaign to other communities in our region can have great implications for helping to ease avoidable congestion in our Emergency Departments, while ultimately allowing us to deliver care to our patients in the most appropriate way.”
The posters are placed in doctors’ offices, walk-in clinics, libraries, recreation centres, lab services and even the Emergency Department itself to remind patients of their options when choosing non-emergency care. These efforts are complemented by an ongoing social media campaign supported by Fraser Health and the White Rock-South Surrey Division of Family Practice. The campaign also promotes the Medimap website, a searchable database of walk-in clinics, which will soon be available on-screen in the Peace Arch Hospital Emergency Department.
For samples of Use the ER Wisely campaign materials, visit fraserhealth.ca.
British Columbians with non-emergency health concerns can also receive trusted health advice by calling HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1, which is available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. Callers are able to speak with a representative who will help them find health information and services, or connect them with a nurse for health advice, a dietitian for nutrition information or a pharmacist (weeknights 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.) for medication advice.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Fraser Health Media Pager: 604-450-7881