Emergency Care at St. Mary’s – 24/7
St. Mary’s Emergency Department (ED) is a full-service department, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every day, more than 150 people are seen and treated in our ED.
Our Emergency Department’s vision is to lead, inspire and nurture through compassion and excellence in patient care.
New: Same Day Online/Phone Visit with an Emergency Physician
To learn more, click here.
Emergency Department Wait Time
To view St. Mary’s Emergency Department wait time clock click here. Here you will find our current wait times, patient volumes and alternative options, including walk-in clinics.
We recognize that visiting the Emergency Department is a stressful experience, and understand that you will be anxious about the waiting time. Wait times fluctuate based on current demands on the department in terms of numbers of people being treated and the complexity of their illness or injury. St. Mary’s was first in Ontario to offer a website which estimates in in real time what the waits will be for the least acute patients.
If you are concerned about your wait time, please speak to your nurse. If your condition changes while you are waiting (your pain gets worse, or better, or new symptoms appear) please also notify your nurse immediately. Our team will do their best to reassess your condition, but your assistance in keeping them informed about your health will help to ensure the best possible experience in the department.
Coming to the Emergency Department
When you arrive, you will print a form from a touch-screen computer, which you will then need to fill out. This form will have a number on it, and a triage nurse will call you by that number, and will then assess the severity of your condition using pre-established criteria (known as the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale). After you have been seen by the Triage Nurse, you will be registered by a department clerk. You will then wait to be seen by a physician or Nurse Practitioner, based on your triage assessment, and in comparison to the severity and illness of the other people also seeking treatment.
Like all hospitals, patients with life-threatening illnesses and conditions are seen immediately. Please be aware that as the Region’s cardiac and respiratory centre, St. Mary’s sees a high number of highly acute (very ill) patients. This may mean a longer wait for those with non-urgent or less-urgent conditions. It is also important to note that even if you arrive via ambulance, you will be assessed by a triage nurse. Arrival by ambulance does not mean you will be seen any sooner than those already waiting for care.
Be Prepared – How You Can Help
To make your visit to the Emergency Department as smooth as possible, there are a number of things you can do:
- Have your Ontario Health Insurance (OHIP) card ready. If you are from outside Ontario, have your health insurance information ready.
- Bring a list of all medications you take on a regular basis, and have any other important information (such as allergies) ready.
- If possible, bring a supply of your medications with you, in case you have to be admitted, or you have a long wait.
- Please talk with a nurse if you decide to leave without seeing a doctor.
- Please do not eat or drink anything without first checking with a nurse.
- If you do not understand English well, please bring along a translator, or ask for an interpreter.
- Please wash your hands frequently. Hand sanitizers are available throughout the Emergency Department.
Safety in the Emergency Department
St. Mary’s Emergency Department DOES NOT prescribe or refill narcotic prescriptions. There are no exceptions to this policy. Additionally, no narcotics are kept in the Emergency Department. If you require a narcotic prescription, please see your family physician or specialist.
Threatening and violent behaviour are not tolerated in the Emergency Department. Patients and visitors who are considered to pose a safety risk to our staff, physicians, volunteers or other patients, will be removed from the hospital. Our staff, physicians and volunteers are here to help you. We pledge to treat you with dignity and respect, and expect the same treatment in return.
Rapid Treatment for Heart Attack Patients
When a heart attack strikes, rapid treatment significantly increases your odds of surviving.
St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre provides a gold standard of care on a 24/7 basis, by fast-tracking access to assessment and treatment with angioplasty to open arteries that are blocked during a heart attack.
Suspected heart attack patients who have not travelled by ambulance to the Emergency Department will be moved immediately to a dedicated room in the department for rapid assessment. If appropriate, they will be transferred immediately to our Cardiac Catheterization Lab for catheterization and emergency angioplasty, to clear blocked arteries.
Calling 911 is the safest option when you or a loved one experience symptoms of a heart attack, because paramedics can immediately begin assessment and care. If you are having an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), a heart attack caused by a blockage in an artery, paramedics contact St. Mary’s and proceed here immediately, bypassing other hospitals which do not offer cardiac catheterization.
If you are a candidate for emergency catheterization, you will be taken directly to our Cardiac Catheterization Lab, for further assessment and emergency angioplasty, if appropriate, with a goal of having the artery re-opened within 90 minutes.