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CHEO’s Emergency Department Off to Busiest-Ever Start to the Year

OTTAWA – The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) has seen a record-high number of patients in its Emergency department so far this year.  More than 11,500 kids have come to Emergency so far this year – a 15% increase over previous years and a new all-time high.

“We are seeing many more kids coming in, particularly with flu and viral illnesses,” said Dr. Mona Jabbour, medical director, Emergency. “We are not sure why there is such an increase.  Although, anecdotally, it does appear that fewer kids have had their flu vaccine this year.”

Included in this increase are a higher number of kids coming in with less serious illnesses.

“We want to be here for parents and kids in the community who have health concerns,” said Dr. Jabbour. “But we have to make sure we treat the most serious cases first. So we encourage families whose children have cold and flu symptoms to see their child’s doctor or use community clinics as an alternative to potentially long waits in emergency.”

To help families determine if their child’s symptoms are serious enough to visit emergency, CHEO provides this guidance. You should visit emergency if your child has: 
  • Difficulty breathing (for example: breathing faster than normal; have whitish or bluish lips; are coughing excessively, choking or breathing irregularly).
  • A fever over 38° C or 100.4° F if under three months of age.
  •  A fever and is difficult to wake up or is very sleepy.
  • Diarrhea, vomiting and have no tears, a very dry mouth, and have not urinated at least two to three times over the last 24 hours.
  • A rash that does not turn white when you push on it.
  • An injury where it is suspected that a bone may be broken or stitches required.
  • A change in level of consciousness due to injury, infection or other causes

CHEO asks that families visit their pediatrician or family doctor, unless they are dealing with a true emergency, as described above. If there is no community physician, or the physician is unavailable, families can call or visit one of the following:

  •  Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000
  •  QuebecCLSC: 8-1-1, during the daytime. After hours listen to the recording for directions, which give a telephone number to call in the Outaouais region;
  •  Your local Community Health Centre or a Family Medical Center: Can assist with minor emergencies such as stitches and casts. See telephone listing for “clinics” the yellow pages or
  •   Mental Health Crisis Line: 613-722-6914 in Ottawa or 1-866-281-2911 outside the city
If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Ann Fuller, Director of Communications at CHEO at 613-737-7600, ext 2658
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