A campaign to ease congestion in hospital emergency departments by discouraging unnecessary visits – launched over a year ago at Peace Arch Hospital – has proven a practical success, according to a news release from Fraser Health.
So much of a success, in fact, that the program will be expanding to Chilliwack and Mission this month, with plans to bring it even more communities later this year.
The Use The ER Wisely program, which uses posters and signage throughout the South Surrey and White Rock area, has been credited in a reduction of visits to Peace Arch Hospital's ER by 1,100 in its first year.
A partnership of the White Rock-South Surrey Division of Family Practice, Fraser Health and the Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation, the program – initiated in December 2015 – encourages patients to visit doctors' offices and walk-in clinics for non-emergency health care needs.
According to Fraser Health, non-emergency visits account for 40 per cent of the ER traffic throughout the region.
The program, complemented by an ongoing social media campaign, also aims to raise awareness and understanding of primary health care services available in the community, while promoting the medimap.ca website, a searchable database of walk-in clinics and wait times.
People with non-emergency health concerns are also encouraged to call HealthLinkBC at 811, a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week service that will connect them with information and services.