Knowing Your Health Care Options Is Crucial In Avoiding Trips To The Emergency Department This Season



December 19, 2018 – The winter season brings increased demand for health services along with holiday closures between Christmas and New Year’s. Influenza and seasonal injuries such as fractures drive this surge, leading to longer than usual wait times for those who don’t require immediate emergency care. Knowing where to go for care is vital this time of year, especially with the early start to the flu season, which may leave hospitals at, or over, capacity.

“It is important to know where to access information about health care services, especially during the holidays as Emergency Departments operate at full capacity,” says Dr. Rhonda Crocker Ellacott, Chief Executive Officer, North West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). “Be prepared this holiday season by taking steps to stay healthy and know your options if you get sick.”

Simple actions like getting a free flu shot, ensuring that you have all your prescriptions refilled before the holidays, and washing your hands often can help you stay healthy. More tips are available at

The website is a trusted and comprehensive source of health and community services right at your fingertips.

“We encourage patients to contact their own health care provider's office as the first place to turn for good information and continuity of care. In addition, is a helpful tool for patients who are in need of health care services but are unsure where to go,” says Dr. Sarah Newbery, Vice President, Clinical, North West LHIN. “This central resource provides information on a range of options – often more appropriate options than the Emergency Department – in the patient’s local community.”


Easy-to-access information on non-emergency medical services

The LHIN encourages members of the public to access when they are looking for help with non-emergency medical issues over the holidays.

The website is a free, comprehensive on-line resource featuring up-to-date information on services available for non-emergency medical needs across communities in Northwestern Ontario.

Flu vaccinations are free and available from your local health care provider or pharmacist. For information, visit

To talk to a registered nurse 24-hours a day, seven days a week, contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

Health Care Connect helps people without a doctor find one. Call 1-800-445-1822 for more information.

For more information about these services and more, visit the North West LHIN website, and click on ‘Know Your Options’.



  • The North West LHIN is responsible for planning, funding and integrating local health services as well as delivering home and community care services.
  • The North West LHIN holds accountability agreements with hospitals, long-term care homes, community health centres, mental health and addictions agencies, and other community support services.
  • The North West LHIN and its Board of Directors are responsible for more than $700 million of health care services delivered in Northwestern Ontario.



Petronilla Ndebele
Director, Communications and Engagement
North West Local Health Integration Network
(807) 684-9425


Robert Servais
Lead, Communications and Media
North West Local Health Integration Network
(807) 684-9425