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Help minimize ‘Winter Surge’ in emergency departments by choosing the right place for care


Vancouver, BC – It's the most wonderful time of the year . . . unless you're urgently in need of health care. During the holidays, a combination of factors often leads to overcrowded hospital emergency departments and extra-long wait times, a phenomenon known as "Winter Surge."

"I hope everyone stays safe and healthy over the holiday season. But if urgent care is needed, two urgent and primary care centres (UPCCs) are open to provide people with faster and better access to the day-to-day non-emergency health-care services they need," said Health Minister Adrian Dix. "To date, we've announced 14 new UPCCs around the province as part of our primary care strategy to help people get the care they need when they need it, and to help take demand off of busy hospital emergency departments."

"It's cold and flu season, slips and falls become more common as streets and sidewalks get icy, and hectic holiday schedules can wreak havoc with regular appointments or treatment plans," said Dr. Afshin Khazei, emergency department doctor and medical director of urgent and primary care centres in Vancouver and North Vancouver. "Unfortunately, it's also when health-care clinics and doctors' offices may be offering reduced hours during the holidays."

To help patients choose the right care at the right place this winter, Vancouver Coastal Health has kicked off a holiday care campaign in partnership with the Vancouver Division of Family Practice, Providence Health Care, Doctors of BC, the British Columbia Pharmacy Association and LifeLabs. The message? While emergency departments are always open, that doesn't mean they're the best place to seek treatment.

"Call your doctor or nurse practitioner's office for non-emergency issues," advised Dr. Khazei. Other options include calling HealthLinkBC (811), talking to your local pharmacist about emergency prescription refills, or visiting a UPCC. More information is available about holiday care options at

"At the UPCC we treat patients with injuries and illnesses that should be addressed by a health care provider within 12 to 24 hours, but do not require emergency care," said Khazei. "We see things like fevers, sprains, cuts requiring stitches, broken bones and infections." UPCCs are part of the Province's primary care strategy to transform BC's health system by bringing together and coordinating with health-care providers, services and programs to make it easier for people to access care, receive follow-up care and connect to other services they may need.

City Centre UPCC is located at 1290 Hornby St., Vancouver, and is open 8 a.m.-10 p.m.Monday to Saturday, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday. North Vancouver UPCC is located at 221 West Esplanade, North Vancouver, and is open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 9 a.m.-4p.m. on Sunday.

VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3.6 billion in community, hospital and long-term care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.


Deana Lancaster
Communications Leader
Vancouver Coastal Health
Office: 604.708.5310
Cell:  604.230.6130

SOURCE: Help minimize ‘Winter Surge’ in emergency departments by choosing the right place for care ( )
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