Ediitorial: ER expansion only one piece of the puzzle

People who insist on going to the ER with non-emergencies play a big part in the problem of over-crowding

Last Friday’s announcement that Langley’s ER will be expanded comes as welcome news in a community that is growing as rapidly as the Township of Langley.

While we haven’t heard the type of horror stories about so-called hallway medicine that have come out of Surrey in recent days, the local ER  has regularly been pushed to its limit, and beyond, over the past number of years, as anyone who’s made a visit on a weekend knows.

But expansion is only one part of the solution.

It remains to be seen whether there will be more funding on the way after the election on May 9, to increase staffing levels in the expanded ER.

Without that, it will amount to little more than extra storage space for patients and do nothing to alleviate wait times, which are the source of most of the complaints we hear from readers.

But there is one more crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to relieving pressure on LMH’s emergency department —  our own behaviour.

Regardless of square footage, residents have a responsibility to use the ER wisely and understand that it is not run on a first-come, first -served basis.

Triage procedures place those in genuinely life-threatening circumstances — patients experiencing chest pains, having difficulty breathing or suffering severe bleeding — at the front of the line.

If your complaint doesn’t fall into one of those categories, however uncomfortable you may be, prepare  to wait.

But even that wait can be shortened up when more people understand that a visit to the ER is not always necessary.  In fact, Fraser Health has laid out a number of criteria on their website.

Start with a call to your family doctor, who knows your history and may be able to get you in the same day, they recommend.

If your doctor is not available, check medimap.ca for walk-in clinic wait times and hours.

Call 811, HealthLink BC to speak with a representative who will help you find health information and services, or connect you with the proper person to offer advice. Or visit HealthLink BC.

For an urgent medication refill, speak with your pharmacist, who may be able to provide an emergency refill of your prescription.

For a mental health concern call the Fraser Health Crisis Line, 604-951-8855.

Finally, for critical or life-threatening conditions call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Hospital ERs are not the place to go for common illnesses or minor injuries.

The more people who understand and abide by these procedures, the better off we’ll all be.