Getting the right care in the right place during seasonal “surge”
Written by Communications, December 7, 2018
Peterborough Family Health Team, PRHC and Peterborough Public Health urge public to get the flu shot, seek care in the right place as patient volumes rise
(Peterborough, ON) – As flu season gets underway and seasonal illnesses begin to circulate, Peterborough Family Health Team (PFHT), Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) and Peterborough Public Health are again working together to prepare for an expected increase in patient volumes in the coming weeks.
Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) continues to see sustained patient volumes above 100 per cent of the hospital’s bed capacity. The hospital had more than 87,000 visits to the Emergency Department (ED) in 2017/18, compared to 83,000 the previous year.
In order to provide care for this increased volume of patients, PRHC has hired more than 100 new nurses – 52 RNs and 52 RPNs – over the past year. The hospital also opened 24 new inpatient beds in October 2017.
“A great deal of work has been done by our leadership, physicians and staff to prepare for the upcoming surge season across the organization,” said Dr. Nancy White, Chief Medical Officer at PRHC. “We continue to see significant increases in the number of patients through our doors, and we ask that people assess the urgency of their illness before deciding whether to seek care with their family practitioner, a community clinic or the Emergency Department as this year’s flu season gets underway.”
“Anyone coming into the ED is also asked to wear a mask if they have any flu symptoms, such as cough, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pain or headache, in order to protect others from potential exposure to the virus,” added Dr. White. Masks are available inside the ED entrance.
PRHC’s Pediatric (POP) Urgent Care Clinic will continue to offer extended after-hours care through the month of December. The POP Clinic serves children under the age of 18 with urgent but non-life-threatening injuries or illnesses. For more information and clinic hours, visit www.prhc.on.ca/cms/pop-urgent-care. Pediatric patients with a family doctor in the community are encouraged to be seen in that setting, where their medical records are kept.
Peterborough Family Health Team (PFHT) recently launched two new clinics for unattached patients. The Peterborough Virtual Care Clinic in Peterborough and PFHT Clinic in Lakefield provide care to patients in Peterborough City and County who are without a healthcare provider. Unattached patients who visit either of these clinics will be placed on a wait list for a new family doctor. Patients with a family doctor can access same-day appointments and the Extended Hours Service. For details and hours of operation, visit www.peterboroughfht.com.
“The PFHT encourages residents to consider these options before visiting PRHC’s Emergency Department,” says Dr. Kaetlen Wilson, Medical Director for the Family Health Team. “Your family doctor has the advantage of access to your medical records, and all offices have same- day appointments available for access when medically needed.”
All patients who are at high risk of complications from influenza should be assessed as soon as possible. The severity of the symptoms should determine whether primary care or hospital care is required. Many healthy people with influenza can manage their illness at home, without the need for medical care. If you determine that your medical situation does not require urgent care (an emergency department assessment), please consider the following options:
- Call your family doctor or nurse practitioner – same-day access instructions will be offered via the office voicemail message
- Visit peterboroughfht.com for your family doctor’s clinic hours and information
- If you are uncertain about how or whether to seek medical care, speak to a registered nurse by calling Telehealth Ontario (24 hours) at 1-866-797-0000. For more information: https://ontario.ca/page/get-medical-advice-telehealth-ontario
With the first cases of flu now confirmed in our community and across the province, Peterborough Public Health reminds residents that getting immunized is their best defence against the flu.
The flu shot is free and widely available at many local pharmacies and your doctor’s office. Residents can easily find out where the flu shot is available by visiting www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca/flu. Peterborough Public Health continues to offer flu shot appointments for children under five years old by calling 705-743-1000, ext. 349.
“As influenza circulates in the Peterborough community, the flu shot may help keep you well over the holidays. It also prevents you from spreading it to people who are at the greatest risk of getting seriously ill if they get the flu – seniors and young children,” says Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health, adding the flu shot is recommended for everyone over six months of age. She also advised residents to avoid delaying getting the flu shot because it takes two weeks to become effective, so sooner is better to reduce the chance of falling ill over the holiday season.
Peterborough Public Health, the Peterborough Family Health Team and PRHC would like to extend our wishes to the community for a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.
For more information:
Brittany Cadence, Communications Manager Peterborough Public Health
Tel: 705-743-1000, ext. 391
Renee Mackenzie, Operations Assistant Peterborough Family Health Team
Tel: 705-740-8020, ext. 304
Michelene Ough, Director, Communications Peterborough Regional Health Centre
Tel: 705-743-2121, ext. 4259