One mother’s story of long wait times in the ER

With a sick baby in her arm, Chelsey Gerrard headed to CHEO’s emergency room by ambulance. Her seven-month-old son, Finn, was having a severe allergic reaction.

“The nurse apologetically said there were 63 patients ahead of us and one doctor until 6 a.m.,” Gerrard said. 

She waited nearly 13 hours in the ER.

“It was so sad to see,” said Gerrard as she waited. “So many kids sick, crying, screaming, coughing, and just exhausted parents.”

After her experience, Gerrard wonders if wait times like this are the new reality.

“Eventually they do see everyone, and so we are lucky with that, but it’s hard,” she said. “It’s a scary thought to think if I have to go to the hospital, this is the situation we are facing.”

The province continues to grapple with the unprecedented volume of patients in hospitals caused by viral infections like the flu, RSV and COVID-19.

“We’ve had ongoing stress before COVID and the system isn’t at the capacity that it was, and we’re just getting slammed. Even our children’s hospitals are getting slammed,” said Dr. Atul Kapur, an Ottawa-based emergency physician.

Health officials recommend masking indoors and being vaccinated as preventive measures to assist an already strained health care system.

Eastern Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis says this surge could last for the next two to four weeks.

“It will be a few more weeks,” he said. “The quicker we adhere to the public health measures the quicker it will go away.”

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