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November 18, 2022

MCH Capacity and Emergency Department Update and Changes

Hamilton Health Sciences’ McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) continues to be under significant pressure. As per direction provided by Ontario Health, MCH continues to implement measures to support patients who need assessment and treatment.

What you need to know – as of today

  • Patients who arrive at the MCH ED will continue to be triaged based on the severity of their condition. A small number of patients with less acute needs who attend the MCH ED will have the option to go to the HHS Urgent Care Centre (UCC) at 690 Main Street. Those requiring urgent/emergent care will continue to be cared for at MCH.
  • The Urgent Care Centre (UCC) at 690 Main Street is open to all ages and can support children and youth with less acute symptoms related to colds and influenza-like illnesses and other minor conditions/injuries.

Other measures in place

  • Working with our hospital partners to send patients to regional hospitals with pediatric wards/beds.
  • Temporarily modifying the MCH “catchment area” so that patients at hospitals, and those being transported by ambulance, in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Wellington County, Cambridge and Guelph areas are sent to the London Health Sciences Centre, instead of the MCH.
  • Note: this does not include NICU patients who will continue to come to MCH and critically ill children who will continue to be transferred via Criticall to the most appropriate and available site.
  • In accordance with provincial direction, there are protocols in place for the transfer of critically ill patients who are 14 year-old and older to critical care units at other HHS sites, and 16-17 year old medicine and surgical patients to other HHS sites. We have not transferred any patients as of today. Transfers would ONLY apply to medically-suitable patients, following discussions between teams and physicians and where the treatment for pediatric patients would be largely similar to that provided to adults.

Here are ways our community can help:

  • Wear a mask in crowded indoor spaces, including schools
  • Stay home when sick
  • Wash your hands, frequently
  • Get all vaccines you are eligible for, including COVID-19 and flu
  • Know your healthcare options. You can visit your family doctor for health concerns that can wait a day or more; contact Health Connect Ontario to speak with a registered nurse 24/7 via phone or web chat; or visit an urgent care centre for health concerns that aren’t life-threatening but can’t wait for a doctor’s appointment. Go to needadoc.ca to learn more.

We recognize the impact that such difficult decisions may have on our youngest patients and their families. We thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we implement these actions to ensure continuity of care.

We sincerely appreciate the work of all our staff and physicians to support patients and their families at this very trying time.

Additional updates on the pressures at MCH are below: