Frequently asked questions

Q: What is the difference between Urgent Care and Emergency?

  • Emergency departments are meant to address the most serious and life-threatening health issues.
  • Urgent care is meant to address urgent, same-day issues that are not life-threatening.
  • Both are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Q: What are some examples of health concerns that should go to emergency?

  • Major trauma; severe burns; severe allergic reaction; difficulty breathing or sudden chest pain; sudden onset of severe headache, confusion or trouble speaking; seizure; stroke; heart attack; unconsciousness with inability to wake.
  • Patients experiencing such conditions, or their proxy, are encouraged to call 911 for EMS intervention.

Q: Why call 911? Won’t it be faster if I drive?

  • An ambulance ride provides more than a fast trip to the emergency department. In many cases of medical emergency, it is essential that the patient receive appropriate medical treatment immediately. Paramedics provide constant monitoring of a patient and can deliver lifesaving medical care should a patient’s condition deteriorate on the way to the hospital. Paramedics also assess the patient and help match them with the best facility to provide care specific to the patient’s condition.
  • Even with the time needed to reach a patient, in cases of actual life-threatening conditions, ambulances will almost always get someone to the hospital faster than if they were driven by the public. Emergency vehicles have the right-of-way on roadways when using emergency lights and sirens which allow them to safely and quickly bypass traffic and navigate through intersections.

Q: What are some examples of health concerns that should go to urgent care instead?

  • Injured limbs that may be broken or sprained; cuts that won’t stop bleeding; dehydration; serious infections or illnesses; injuries from slips and falls other than head injuries; other non-life-threatening trauma.
  • Urgent care is designed for serious health conditions that need to be promptly addressed, but where the patient is otherwise stable with no immediate risk to their life. Patients who attend to an emergency department with such conditions may have to wait longer as more critically serious cases would be given priority by the triage team.

Q: What about urgent mental health matters?

  • If someone is experiencing a sudden or serious mental health crisis, there are a few options. They can call the mobile crisis unit at 204-940-1781 or go in person to the 24-hour mental health crisis response centre at Health Sciences Centre (817 Bannatyne Ave).
  • Friends, family members or other concerned parties can call 911 if they believe someone is experiencing a mental health crisis and they are at risk of hurting themselves or others, and that the person does not want to voluntarily attend to CRC, nor call the mobile crisis unit.

Q: Where do I go if I don’t think my condition requires urgent or emergency care?

  • Your family doctor, the WRHA’s Walk-In Connected Care clinics, or private walk-in clinics can all treat everyday health concerns. All health concerns are serious, but they do not all require the level of care provided at Urgent Care or emergency departments.
  • Examples of such conditions include rashes, infections, and minor illnesses; recurrence or ongoing management of known health conditions; preventive care; diagnoses of unknown but non-urgent conditions; specialist referrals; and requests for prescriptions and vaccinations.

Q: What if I am still not sure what to do?

  • If you are unsure about the best course of action, call Health Links at 204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257
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