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Sick? Hospital urges exploring alternatives before visiting

Thursday, January 30, 2014   by: Staff



The flu season is in full swing, resulting in high volumes of patients presenting at the Sault Area Hospital (SAH) Emergency Department (ED).

Coupled with extremely large numbers of admitted patients, this has resulted in back-ups in the ED and longer-than-normal wait times for individuals with non-urgent or less urgent conditions.

Those with non-urgent conditions are advised to contact or visit their primary care physician or nurse practitioner before visiting the ED to avoid unnecessary delays for themselves and others.

Same day or next day appointments are usually available for patients of Group Health Centre (GHC), Superior Family Health Team (SFHT) and the Algoma Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic.

In addition, the Algoma Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic is currently registering patients who do not have a primary care provider.

Group Health Centre patients may also choose to access the GHC Walk-In or Same Day Clinics.  

Residents are also reminded that they can contact Telehealth Ontario toll-free at 1-866-797-0000 for free access to a Registered Nurse who can assess symptoms and help decide next steps.

Patients with urgent – or suspected urgent – conditions should still report to the Emergency Department where they will continue to be seen on a priority basis.

For those patients coming to the ED, please bring along your OHIP card and all medications in the original containers if possible.

Anyone who has not received this year’s flu vaccination is asked to wear a mask during their visit to help curb the spread of infection and to wash their hands with the solution provided.

Flu vaccination and good hand hygiene are the best protection against acquiring and transmitting the flu.

SAH wishes to recognize and thank the Group Health Centre, Superior Family Health Team, Algoma Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic all the primary care physicians/providers in the community who are making every effort to be available for patient visits during this critical time.

Their commitment to their patients and the community is evident and appreciated.

For more information about SAH, visit


Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Daiv 1/30/2014 9:53:00 AM Report

You call the Group Health same day and wait an hour on hold to hear appointments are filled up.
So then you call your doctor, and sure they can see you - in three months.
euroman 1/30/2014 10:16:41 AM Report

GHC is OK if you are a patient there. If your doctor leaves, they don't want to see you or talk to you. How this is deemed a great health care model remains a mystery.
CRaginskis 1/30/2014 10:20:00 AM Report

The hospital can't handle the volume so they say please don't come. Yet another reason I moved out of the Sault.
right wing 1/30/2014 10:30:24 AM Report

...and where did you move to for immediate care?

It's simple, it's the flu.
I had it for over two weeks and did not run to emergency.
This happens every year and some folks still don't get the's a common flu or cold unless you have other health problems, are elderly or have a raging fever stay home!!!!!
justsomeguy 1/30/2014 10:37:30 AM Report

@right wing - I've had a bad chest/head cold for almost 3 months now. Tried home remedies, etc. no improvement. Clearly I need some medical intervention.

I've been trying for weeks to see my doctor, can't get in. She's either booked solid or on vacation it seems.
Tried the walk-in clinic, gave up after a 3 hour wait and multiple cell calls from my boss wondering where I was.

I work for a small locally owned company so of course I have no sick days and will just have to keeping heading into work and infecting everyone.
Jimssm 1/30/2014 10:39:48 AM Report

I agree with rw.

There's a difference between sick and SICK.

Stop bogging down the ER with normal flu symptoms and colds.... unless you're elderly or otherwise health-compromised.
Daiv 1/30/2014 10:46:59 AM Report

I agree with not going for colds and stuff. But people need medical care now sometimes not three months from now.
3rd times a charm 1/30/2014 10:56:02 AM Report

wow! Sick people going to the hospital is an issue??

That's our "sick" care system for you...people don't have doctors, can't get into the walk-in clinic, can't get any help at emergency, we lack nurses and support staff, volunteers are manning the triage section...

good thing we spent millions on that white elephant...

too bad invisible Orazietti isn't around to answer some tough questions...
Tom_Bom 1/30/2014 10:56:57 AM Report

Remember guys there's still that station mall walk in clinic and the family and medicine drop in clinic in the west end mall there. Though, the station mall one is a little hit or miss since you talk to a video doctor and are evaluated by someone who isn't licensed to practice medicine in canada...

houston 1/30/2014 10:59:25 AM Report

Why not set up a phone number that a patient can call before coming to emergency, with a Nurse Practitioner advising the patient where they should go for medical care; if any is required at all. Most people are not qualified to make that decision unless they are a health care professional.
Sam C 1/30/2014 11:01:04 AM Report

euroman... it is what it is, a membership-based system. The GHC receives a monthly payment based on the number of "enrollees" on their roster.

The walk-in clinics at the malls are great for people who don't have a family doctor. There may be a wait, but you'll get seen.

Part of the delay in getting seen, whether at a walk-in, the GHC, or the hospital, however, comes from people who should just stay home in bed and get some rest. Those who are not at higher risk can usually wait through a bad cold or a mild case of the flu.
Jimssm 1/30/2014 11:04:27 AM Report


Although your 'call-in' triage is a good idea, there is no way, under the current system, for anyone to get paid for providing that service.

Hence, it's not going to happen.
B Boy 1/30/2014 11:16:52 AM Report

@jimssm - I believe that progam is called Telehealth Ontario. You can call 24hrs a day and speak with a live person which is an RN.

It's ok but they still advise you to follow up with a doctor or hospital visit.
asp 1/30/2014 11:28:06 AM Report

I just had surgery in Toronto and it was a very pleasant experience. The nurses were very attentive, the Doctors are very organized, wow I was impressed, compare to what I had to put up with in the Sault Area Hospital. It is easy for people to say stay home if you have a cold, but sometimes that cold could lead to something worse, and we have the right to medical attention when we want. It is also to be safe, then sorry.
icemantbi 1/30/2014 11:43:15 AM Report

There is also another option for those who can't get to see a doctor... War Memorial Hospital across the ditch. Yes, you pay, but at least you can see someone.
KMF61MCF 1/30/2014 11:44:39 AM Report

I guess maybe they now know what to do with the Million dollar surplus they were asking the public to do with. I had a family member( a child) there one night very sick waited over 6 hours after being harpooned (by a disgruntled nurse with a attitude)aka for blood work.The child was diagnosed with H1N1 appaerntely they were waiting for the Dr. Which they said they were in between Doctors. My family member was told "go home and cry about the wait I'm calling the Fire Marshall because there's to many people here" Patients were told they had "No Doctor" every one to go home and try again tomorrow. REALLY SERIOUSLY telling patients that??? Unacceptable, unprofessional behaviour. It's a hospital and one would think if they are overwhelmed with sick patients hello it'd FLU SEASON! HIN1 Influenza Swine flu etc they would be prepared. God forbid if any pandemic were to happen in this city. And they have to ask the public what to do with a 1 million dollar surplus?
soowat 1/30/2014 11:49:17 AM Report

I agree with R.W. Before running to Emergency ask yourself what you probably have. For example, if you have the common cold remember the old adage---If you treat it,it will last a week. If you don't treat it,it will last seven days.

If it's the flu did you get a flu shot--If not,stay home and suffer.

Why go out with your cold or flu and infect others especially me

justsomeguy 1/30/2014 11:56:00 AM Report

Soowat - not quite that simple.
There are some people that actually can't get the flu shot for a reasons such as allergic reactions to the shot itself.

It would be great if life was so black & white.

Additionally, everyone's body is different and some people may need hospitalization for seemingly minor illnesses. There are people with heart conditions or lung conditions that can barely handle a cold without significant health consequences. Should they just suck it up & stay home, hope for the best?

There are so many factors involved.
Pakadeva 1/30/2014 12:15:36 PM Report

I agree, totally unacceptable behaviour!
If things are so bad, isn't there a back up Dr. on call? Are we living in the 1800's still? When overwhelmed with patients you call other staff in. There are likely nurses who could at least be helping the patients while waiting, are they called, no. Some of them would love to get the extra hours. How can they brag about a spare million while people of our city are suffering & dying? Hire the
extra Dr./'s & nurses, PSW's needed to do the job, should be a simple thought of where to put it.
Bad Dawg 1/30/2014 12:27:24 PM Report

i sat in emergency not that long ago and saw lots of people complaining about being sick, not sick enough to leave the house without make-up all dolled up, and looking only for a Dr. note for work..... that is what needs to stop. A nurse knows if you are sick by your appearance, if you took the time to put your fake eyelashes on then she prolly won't believe you need such urgent care (is what they are complaining about)...... and I was there getting stitches only cause the wife wouldn't let me do it myself
Daiv 1/30/2014 12:41:59 PM Report

Did you know that if you are a member of the Group Health and are 'caught' going to walk-ins other than theirs, you can lose your membership?
Please feel free to investigate this information; I cannot confirm the accuracy.
My sister went to one of the other walk-ins and mentioned it to the Group Health when she was there (and why not, I didn't think there was a problem with it) and that's what she was told.
Again, it's what my sister told me, so maybe it is bogus information, but I can't see why she would lie.

I don't agree with running to the hospital for every little thing, but sometimes people need to see a doctor.
I made an appointment with my doctor and was told it would be in six-months - no kidding. Good thing it wasn't an 'urgent' issue!

But on the other hand, shortage of doctors doesn't help any.

Is there a doctor shortage everywhere or just here?
If that's so, maybe Ontario should pay for educations but stipulate they have to remain in certain areas for a minimum of ten years.
By that time, maybe they will have found a spouse, had kids, etc. and not WANT to leave.

Just a thought.
Daiv 1/30/2014 12:42:52 PM Report

And they have a call in - it's called Telehealth.
And they don't ALWAYS tell you to go to the hospital, but a lot of times they do.
asp 1/30/2014 3:07:00 PM Report

It is funny how they built this new hospital and are always asking for money from the community. Patients can only stay fo awhile, they try to get you out as soon as they can, but they have elderly people in there that are waiting for nursing homes. If there were more nursing we could get the elderly placed. The best areas in the hospital, where the care is first is Dr. Fatesi clinic and Renal staff are awsome.Doctor Fatesi, Shafie, Berry and their staff keep up the good job. Great People!!!
mallet 1/30/2014 4:20:13 PM Report


Sometimes one has no option but to go to emergency, people without doctors and who have permanent conditions that need persciptions for one. Before we got a permanent doctor again, we did this for two years, and they would only give Rx for 2 or 3 months depending on the Rx. which meant multiple visits. Sometimes we waited for up to six hours, which for a diabetic can be awkward, especially when the security people tell you, you cannot have your own food and drink. Something like Diabetes, they could give you a lifetime Rx, there's no cure, as yet, and it has not perculated down that Pharmacists can repeat meds that are non narcotic themselves, but the payscale hasn't been ratified yet I guess. As for the Million bucks surplus they ask what to do with.. well call in people as necessary and pay them out of that...
D0BBER 1/30/2014 5:08:40 PM Report

If the government implemented a $20 per use fee for all emergency room visits we would see a drastic cut to the wasteful usage of the emergency room !!

People dont even consider the cost because they dont see a bill !!
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