Cambridge Memorial Hospital ’s Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our fully qualified emergency physicians and nurses that staff our 23-bed facility, proudly provide emergency services to 150 patients daily - approximately 55,000 patients each year.
At times our resources are stretched to the limit which leads to wait times that are frustrating for staff 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 we are Reducing Emergency Wait Times
How You Can Help Reduce Emergency Wait Times
Frequently Asked Questions
Other Medical Resources in Cambridge
More choices: Finding clinics, doctors and nurse practitioners in Cambridge and the Waterloo region
When to Come to Emergency? top
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 a 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?
Emergency Health Problems
While not a complete list, the following is a guideline of problems best handled in the emergency department.
- 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 or an urgent care clinic.
- Minor burns or injuries
- Sprains and strains
- Coughs, colds, and sore throats
- Ear infections
- Fever or flu-like symptoms
- Skin irritations (rashes)
- Mild asthma
- Prescription renewals
- Investigation of chronic problems
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
- If you do not have a family doctor, click here to find a doctor and a list of Regional Walk-in Clinics.
- Alternatively, call TeleHealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 to speak with registered nurses who can answer health-related questions
What to Expect in the Emergency Department? top
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.
Why does Emergency get so Backed Up? top
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 on the 23 emergency beds. 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.
How is CMH Reducing Emergency Wait Times? top
Cambridge Memorial Hospital employs three initiatives to help reduce wait times; our fast track program and by actively recruiting emergency physicians. Over 65 physicians have been recruited over the past 12 years.
Our fast track program operates when we have a second emergency doctor available to treat less critical patients. Typically these patients have medical conditions that will not require them to occupy a treatment bed, thereby moving patients through the emergency department more efficiently.
Finally, Cambridge Memorial Hospital continues to actively recruit emergency physicians. Unfortunately, Ontario faces a shortage of emergency physicians which makes it difficult to fill vacancies.
How You Can Help Reduce Emergency Wait Times top
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.
- Contact your local urgent care clinic. You do not need to have a family physician to visit an urgent care clinic. A list of community resources is available in your phone book and on our website.
- 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
Frequently Asked Questions top
- Can I call Emergency to find out how long the wait is?
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.
- 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.
- What other medical resources are available in Cambridge?
The following is a list of medical resources available in Cambridge.