Emergency Services

About This Program

Cambridge Memorial Hospital ’s Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is a 40-stretcher facility. Our fully qualified emergency physicians and nurses proudly provide emergency services to over 150 patients daily up to about 56,000+ patients each year.

There may be times when your wait is longer than usual. 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. To learn more about wait times in an emergency department, please click to watch this informative and entertaining video by Dr. Mike Evans.

Click the image to take a tour of the new Emergency (YouTube):

Sub acute zone emergency department


When should I go to Emergency?

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

Sometimes it is a difficult to know when you should visit a family doctor, an urgent care clinic or when to come to the emergency department. So how do you know which is the correct course of medical attention? The following is not a complete list, but a brief guideline of problems handled best by an emergency department:

Emergency Health Problems

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

For children:

In addition to the list above, bring a child to the emergency department if they:

  • have persistent fever(>38.5 ºC/100.4 ºF)
  • have persistent vomiting/diarrhea
  • will not eat or drink ~ particularly young children

Minor Health Problems

While not complete, the following list is a guideline of problems suitable for your family doctor, nurse practitioner 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 may consider the following options:

  • Call your family doctor or nurse practitioner first. Several family physician networks now offer after-hours and weekend care
  • If you do not have a family doctor, contact Health Care Connect (1.800.445.1822) to register for a doctor
  • To learn who is accepting new patients in Cambridge  and surrounding area, connect with Doctors 4 Cambridge - Need a Doctor (the list will be kept up-to-date as best as possible - there are times when the webmaster is not informed the physician is not accepting anymore)
  • Click for a list of Regional Walk-in Clinics
  • Call TeleHealth Ontario at 1.866.797.0000 to speak with registered nurses who can answer health-related question

What I Need to Know

Please bring any personal assistive devices that you require. For example, any communication or mobility device you may need like a walker, hearing aid, etc. 

Kindly note that CMH has a no scent policy.  Kindly refrain from using or wearing perfumes, scented deodorants and scented products before coming to hospital. 


As of September 15, 2023, Cambridge Memorial Hospital along with Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital started trialing a new program called Fit2Sit, in partnership with the Region of Waterloo Paramedic Service. Patients that arrive at our emergency departments by ambulance will sit in a waiting room chair upon their arrival, if they are well enough to do so.

The program aims to reduce the amount of time paramedics need to sit and wait with patients arriving at emergency departments by ambulance. By being Fit2Sit, you are freeing up stretchers for others in need and allowing ambulances to get back on the road to provide emergency care to our communities.

How does Fit2Sit work?

  • After an assessment, the paramedic will determine if their patient qualifies to wait in the waiting room at the hospital.
  • Paramedics use specific inclusion and exclusion criteria to determine if their patient is fit to sit in the waiting room
  • When they arrive at the emergency department, the paramedic will take the patient directly to the waiting room, sign them into the kiosk and have the patient sit in the waiting room front row chairs

What changes for you as a patient?

  • If you arrive at one of our three emergency departments by ambulance you may end up waiting in the waiting room with other patients
  • Hospital staff will monitor each patient who is Fit2Sit while they wait to be seen by a physician or nurse. Patients are asked to inform the triage nurse immediately if their condition changes.
  • This does not change the care you receive. The sickest patients will still be seen first.

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.

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 on the 40 emergency beds. Sometimes there is a wait for diagnostic testing (e.g., X-ray or ultrasound) or lab results. Sometimes the volume of emergency patients in the most severe triage categories ties up our emergency resources. When these things happen, patients can expect a longer wait for service.

We understand the frustration and anxiety this causes. Bringing reading material or toys for your child can help family members pass the time. Bring a drink, but be sure to check with the nurse before eating anything. Space in our current area  is quite small and it can become crowded. Consider bringing only one family member with you for company and assistance.

Always advise the triage nurse if your condition worsens, if 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. You will be seen.

How is CMH reducing Emergency wait times?

Cambridge Memorial Hospital’s (CMH) Emergency Department is working to reduce wait times through innovative programming and system improvements. For example, we operate a Minor Treatment Clinic (MTC) from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., when we have a second emergency doctor or nurse practitioner. This clinic is designed to treat non-urgent and less critical cases. Patients seen in the MTC have medical conditions that do not require a treatment bed for prolonged periods of time. This helps move patient through the emergency department more efficiently. The department has also set-up a rapid assessment zone to help triage and diagnose patients in a timelier manner.

How can I 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.
  • Contact your local urgent care clinic. You do not need to have a family physician to visit an urgent care clinic. 
  • 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


  • Do not eat or drink without first checking with a nurse
  • Speak with a nurse if you decide to leave without seeing a doctor


For questions or to provide feedback