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When to Go

CHEO’s emergency department is there for you when your child is very sick and in need of emergency treatment. Emergency Departments are open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Sometimes it is difficult to know whether your child’s problem is serious or not. Here are a few examples of conditions when you should immediately take your child to the Emergency Department or call 911:
  • If your child is having any difficulty breathing, for example:
    •  breathing faster than normal;
    • child looks paler than usual or has whitish or bluish lips;
    • child is coughing excessively, choking or breathing irregularly.
  • If your child has any injury where you think a bone may be broken or there is a wound that may need stitches.
  • Your child is vomiting following an injury.
  • Your child has diarrhea, vomiting AND has:
    • No tears;
    • Very dry mouth;
    • Not urinating at least 2-3 times over the last 24 hours.
  • Your child is under 3 months of age and has a fever over 38° C or 100.4° F.
  • Your child has a fever and is difficult to wake up or is very sleepy.
  • If your child develops a rash that does not turn white when you push on it.

If your child is not seriously ill where else could you seek medical advice?

Everyone has a role to play in managing the long waits in the Emergency Department. When your child is ill, you can consult some of the following people for information and guidance, before bringing your child to CHEO:
  • Your pediatrician’s office or family physician (Primary Care Physician).
  • If your primary care physician is not available, often their office answering service will indicate who is on call for them.
  • If you do not have a primary care physician, you can call or visit one of the following:
    • Telehealth Ontario 1-866-797-0000 for immediate health advice from a Registered Nurse;
    • The Ottawa Public Health Information Line at 613-580-6744, Monday to Friday between 8:30 - 4 p.m.
    • Quebec: 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;
    • The local Community Health Centre (see telephone listing for Clinics in the yellow pages) or a Family Medical Centre (also see telephone listing for Clinics in the yellow pages) which can assist with minor emergencies such as stitches & casts.
    • 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.
    • Your local Walk in/ After-Hours Clinic or Urgent Care Centre:
If you are looking for specific pediatric resources about your child’s condition, you may wish to visit our Kaitlin Atkinson Family Resource Library, located on the first floor at CHEO. For further information call 613-738-3942.

What to bring if you decide to come to CHEO:

Bring your health card (OHIP, or RAMQ). There are many specialty services at CHEO and often children are prescribed equipment or medications, which may not be immediately accessible. If your child requires hospitalization or is required to stay at CHEO, it would greatly assist his/her care if you bring any specialized equipment or medication with you.

To help us care for your child and prevent disruption to your child’s routine, please bring any of the following that your child may need:

  • medical equipment used by your child;
  • current, labeled medications;
  • specialized formula your child is taking;
  • any tubes or devices needed to care for your child.
Please remember to bring a few books, toys and snacks to keep your child busy while you wait. To prevent the spread of germs between children, we have removed all the books and toys from our waiting rooms.
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