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CHEO Thanks Community for Its Support During Unprecedented Peak Season

OTTAWA – The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) would like to thank the community for its on-going understanding and support during what to continues to be its busiest-ever peak season.

CHEO normally sees an increase in patients this time of the year, however, we are currently seeing an unprecedented number of kids. Visits to the Emergency department are up 25 percent to date in March, compared to the same period last year. So far this year, CHEO has seen more than 15,000 patients in emergency – up 20 percent year-to-date.

This record-high number of patients in emergency is resulting in longer waits in emergency, shortages of in-patient hospital beds, and consequently the cancellation of some elective surgeries.

So far this year CHEO has had to cancel 27 surgeries due to a shortage of beds, compared to 10 – 15 times during an average year. Last year was also a difficult year and, by this date, 25 surgeries had to be cancelled due to bed shortages.

We really appreciate the support from the community as we deal with this unprecedented volume of patients,” said Dr. Carrol Pitters, chief of staff. “People have been very understanding of the wait times and surgery cancellations. Those things are never easy because, as parents, we always want to do everything we can for our child.”

“I’d also like to commend the extra efforts and work put forth by all staff, both in the Emergency department and throughout the hospital. People are taking extra shifts to help deal with the volume of patients in Emergency and admitted to hospital.”

There is an increasing number of kids coming in with flu and other virus symptoms, such as gastroenteritis. CHEO strongly emphasizes the importance of hydration management, hand hygiene, and keeping sick children home from school or daycare in order to avoid the spread of illness.

In addition, CHEO continues to see an unusually high number of visits to its Emergency Department related to mental health. So far in 2011, there is a 25 percent increase over the same period last year, and a 65 percent increase over the year before. More concerning still is the 88 percent increase in more serious cases, requiring specific psychiatric consultations.

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

Or if you worry if that your child or teen may cause significant harm to themselves or to others.  

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

·         The  Child, Youth and Family Crisis Line for Eastern Ontario can be reached at 613-260-2360 in Ottawa or 1-877 377- 7775 for long distance toll free calls.

Families can visit the CHEO website to view a community update video that highlights other services available in the community.

For more information, CHEO Public Relations, 613-737-2343

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