Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit Barrie Office
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Accessing Care over the Holidays

Dec 19, 2017
Influenza and holiday scheduling expected to add to high number of emergency room visits

Influenza and holiday scheduling expected to add to high number of emergency room visits

SIMCOE MUSKOKA — Emergency rooms in North Simcoe Muskoka historically see a rise in visits during the holiday season due to a peak in flu activity and reduced office hours during the holidays.

“The emergency room remains the safest place for you to go if you are experiencing symptoms such as difficulty breathing, continuous vomiting, sudden severe headache, chest pain, seizures, stiff neck and sensitivity to light, or have an infant under three months with a fever over 100.4 F,” says Dr. Rebecca Van Iersel, Vice President of Clinical at the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network. “However, we all can play a role in relieving pressure on our local hospitals by knowing where and when to access care over the holidays.”

Dr. Van Iersel suggests contacting your primary care team to schedule any routine medical appoints before Dec. 23, understanding timing of office closures, and understanding where you can receive health care if you need it while the office is closed.

You can help ease pressure on your local hospital by:

  • Getting the flu shot
  • Scheduling routine medical appointments before Dec. 23 or after Jan. 3
  • Re-filling prescriptions in advance to avoid pharmacy closures.

“It’s important for people to get the flu shot,” says Dr. Colin Lee, Associate Medical Officer of Health with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. “For anyone who has not yet received the vaccine, it is still a wise choice, as we have not yet reached peak flu activity, and the influenza season does continue until April. People who have been immunized will also help to prevent the flu from spreading.”

“It is safer to get the flu shot, than to get the flu,” reminds Dr. Van Iersel. 

If you expect you have the flu, you may experience a number of symptoms, most commonly fever, muscle aches, and extreme fatigue. If you, or someone in your family, feels that they have the flu, stay at home, get plenty of rest, and drink lots of clear fluids.

See your family doctor, nurse practitioner, visit a walk-in clinic, or call Telehealth (1-866-797-0000) if you do not start to feel better within a few days, if your symptoms get worse, or if you are part of a high-risk group such as children under 5, those 65 or older, pregnant women, and people with existing health conditions.

For more information about influenza, visit the health unit website at, or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to4:30 p.m.


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