Emergency Care

About Emergency

The Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital's two emergency Departments are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our fully qualified personnel proudly provide emergency services to 140 patients daily – approximately 52,000 patients each year.

At times our resources are stretched to the limit which leads to wait times that are frustrating for staff, physicians and patients. These web pages will help you understand when you should come to visit our emergency department, what you can expect, and how you can help us serve you more effectively.

When to Come to Emergency?
What to Expect in Emergency?
Why does Emergency get so Backed Up?
How You Can Help Reduce Emergency Wait Times
Frequently Asked Questions

When to Come to Emergency

The emergency department is intended to provide emergency medical care. That is when you have a serious condition – stroke, heart attack, severe bleeding, head injury or other major trauma. Don’t take a chance with anything that might be life-threatening, come to the emergency department.

However, sometimes it is difficult to know when you should visit a family doctor/urgent care clinic or when to come to the emergency department. So how do you know which is the correct course of medical attention?

While not a complete list, the following is a guideline of problems best handled in the emergency department:


For adults:
  • chest pain
  • difficulty breathing, unexpected heavy breathing or shortness of breath
  • severe bleeding or head trauma
  • sudden onset of weakness, dizziness
  • loss of consciousness
  • severe abdominal pain
  • injuries to eyes, hands, ears
  • sudden change in speech or vision
  • broken bones
  • major sprains
In addition to the above, you should bring a child to the emergency department if the child experiences:
  • persistent fever(>38.5 ºC/100.4 ºF)
  • persistent vomiting/diarrhea
  • will not eat or drink ~ particularly young children

Minor Health Problems


While not a complete list, the following is a guideline of problems suitable for your family doctor:

  • Minor burns or injuries
  • Sprains and strains
  • Coughs, colds, and sore throats
  • Ear infections
  • Fever or flu-like symptoms
  • Skin irritations (rashes)
  • Prescription renewals
  • Investigation of chronic problems

What to Expect in the Emergency Department

Soon after your arrival – regardless of whether you arrive by ambulance or by your own means – a triage nurse will assess your condition based on the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale.

This assessment allows us to determine the seriousness of your injury or illness. Once the assessment is complete, we will register you and, based on several factors, direct you to either a treatment area or the waiting area.

Please note, patients are seen based on the severity of their condition, not the order that they arrived. For example, a patient experiencing a heart attack will be seen before someone with a more minor health condition. However, if your condition worsens while you are waiting, please advise the triage nurse.
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Why Does Emergency Get So Backed Up?

On occasion, our emergency department gets backed up for any of several reasons. Sometimes the volume of patients in the emergency department exceeds our capacity as defined by the number of physicians, nurses and treatment beds available. Sometimes there are no available acute care beds in the hospital to accept patients from the emergency department thereby causing patients to wait. Sometimes there is a wait for diagnostic testing (X-ray) or laboratory results. Sometimes the volume of emergency patients in the top triage categories ties up our emergency resources. In any of these cases, patients can expect a longer wait for service.

We understand the frustration and anxiety this causes. Bringing reading material or toys can help family members pass the time. Bring a drink, but be sure to check with the nurse before eating anything. As space is limited, bring no more than one family member with you to reduce the inconvenience to accompanying family members. And remember to advise the triage nurse if your condition worsens, you have to leave the waiting room for a few minutes, or you decide to leave without being seen by a physician. Our best advice is to remain patient, confident that you will be seen.

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How You Can Help Reduce Emergency Wait Times

To help us efficiently respond to our community’s emergency needs, if you feel your injury or illness is minor:
  • Contact your family physician. Family physicians provide the first level of care and often have on-call arrangements to provide care evenings, weekends and holidays.
  • Call TeleHealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 for free access to registered nurses who will help with any health-related questions.
If you do need emergency care, please come prepared with:
  • your Ontario Health Insurance Plan card or other health insurance information
  • a list of any allergies to medications
  • a supply of any medications you are taking in case you are admitted
  • talk to a nurse if you decide to leave without seeing a doctor
  • do not eat or drink without first checking with a nurse
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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I call Emergency to find out how long the wait is?

Please don’t call the Emergency Department to ask how long the wait times are. Your waiting time will depend on your condition and the number and condition severity of patients that arrive before you arrive and while you are seated in the waiting room.

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Can I book an appointment?

We cannot offer appointments or put your name on the waiting list prior to your arrival. You must be assessed by a triage nurse to determine the severity of your condition.

Will you provide advice over the phone?

We cannot offer advice over the phone. You must be assessed by a triage nurse to accurately determine the severity of your condition.

If you have a minor health problem, you should consider the following options:
  • Call Your Family Doctor First. Several family physician networks now offer after-hours and weekend care
  • Alternatively, call TeleHealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 to speak with registered nurses who can answer health-related questions.