Emergency Department

Headwaters' Emergency Services are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

It's not always easy to know if a medical problem needs emergency care at an Emergency Department. In some situations, emergency medical treatment is a must. Other conditions and services such as prescription renewals are best dealt with by your family doctor or at a local after-hours clinic.

Understanding how an Emergency Department works may help you decide if you need to go there. If you think it's an emergency or urgent, don't hesitate, trust your judgement.

Don’t forget to bring your:
  • Ontario Health card and another piece of photo ID
  • Children need their birth certificate and Ontario Health Card
  • Medications you are taking (including herbal remedies)
What Can You Expect?
Whether you arrive by ambulance or on your own, a Triage Nurse will ask you several questions and perform a few simple procedures to assess your condition. This will help them decide how urgently you need to be seen by a doctor. This process is known as Triage. Patients are treated in the following order based on urgency:

Life Threatening
Cardiac arrest, major trauma, unconsciousness or non-responsive, limb amputation

Head injury, spinal cord injury, heart attack, high fever in infant less than 3 months old

Dislocated shoulder, asthma, seizure, vomiting and diarrhea in toddler, leg fracture

Less Urgent
Fractured wrist, ear infection, foreign body in eye, back pain, headache

Not Urgent
Constipation, minor cuts or bumps, sore throat, dressing changes, prescription renewal

Worse Comes First
Patients are seen by a doctor in order of need. Emergency care is not provided on a first-come first-serve basis. How long you wait will depend on:
  • How urgently you need care
  • How urgently others in the Emergency Department need care, including those who arrive by ambulance
  • How busy the Emergency Department is when you arrive
Once you have been assessed it may be necessary for you to have further tests (e.g. X-rays or blood tests) or be seen by a specialist

The Emergency Department does not give out wait times over the phone.

What Else Can I Do?
  • If you have a family doctor, go to your family doctor. Your doctor knows your family history, and can provide you with the best follow-up care. Your community pharmacist may offer advice on non-urgent medical matters.
  • Make sure you and your family have enough prescribed medication, especially for weekends and holidays.
  • If you have a chronic illness, keep your regularly scheduled appointments with your doctor. Ask your doctor what change in your condition would require medical attention.