As the holiday season approaches, it is important for everyone to be aware of the health care services available and to take measures that can help prevent illness or a medical emergency, according to the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integrated Network (LHIN).
Each year, the holiday season presents the additional challenge of trying to address a higher volume of health care needs in the community with, at times, fewer resources due to office closures or reduced hours for many health care providers. This can lead to unnecessary visits to hospital emergency departments and longer-than-usual wait times.
This is especially true during the period of Dec. 12-Jan. 8 – known as the “12 Days of Christmas.”
Erie St. Clair Healthline (www.eriestclairhealthline.ca) is an online listing of more than 1,800 programs and services available throughout the Erie St. Clair LHIN region.
The site features a Non-Emergency Medical Services page that displays information including holiday hours, contact numbers, and locations for a variety of health care organizations including family health teams and community health centres. It also features pharmacies with extended hours and crisis intervention assistance.
“One of our goals as a LHIN is to provide information and referral services to our communities. The Erie St. Clair Healthline can help people find the right care, at the right time, in the right place and help prevent overcrowding at local hospitals. People can also call us at 1-888-447-4468 to speak with our Information & Referral team for details on which services are available over the holidays,” said Shannon Sasseville, Director of Communications, Public Affairs & Community Engagement at the LHIN.
Additionally, for anyone taking prescribed medications, it is important to ensure there is enough supply to get through the holidays. It is a good idea to get prescriptions refilled ahead of time or to visit a physician or nurse practitioner in advance for further direction, to avoid unnecessary delays to a person’s medication plan.
There are also measures people should take to help prevent getting sick during the holidays. Proper handwashing is important to help stop the spread of germs, bacteria, and disease. Getting a flu shot can also help to protect oneself from contracting the virus.
Anyone experiencing a medical emergency should call 911 or visit the Emergency Department immediately.