'Use Your ER Wisely' is a new education campaign being rolled out by Chilliwack Division of Family Practice and Fraser Health

'Use Your ER Wisely' is a new education campaign being rolled out by Chilliwack Division of Family Practice and Fraser Health

Using the ER appropriately in Chilliwack will take a shift in culture

Call your family doc or check online at medimap.ca to see which clinics have the shortest wait times in Chilliwack, physician says

Call your family doctor first.

That’s the first line of attack in a new health education campaign urging everyone to ‘Use Your ER Wisely.’

“Educating patients about where to go to receive timely and available medical attention not only gives them a better understanding of our health care system, but also helps them feel engaged in their own care,” said Dr. Ralph Jones, physician lead, Chilliwack Division of Family Practice. “This leads to patients making healthy and informed choices that improve their overall experience.”

‘Use Your ER Wisely’ is being rolled out by Chilliwack Division of Family Practice and Fraser Health in partnership with Chilliwack Healthier Community.

When everyone gets “the right care, at the right place,” as the tag line goes, they can avoid using the ER inappropriately. Posters and rack cards will be popping up to raise public awareness about the campaign.

“It’s going to take a shift in patient culture in some cases,” said Dr. Jones.

More than 26,000 visits to the ER in Chilliwack General Hospital in 2015-16 were deemed “semi-urgent” or “non-urgent.”

The idea of the new campaign is to cut that number way down — by making people more aware of all the options.

“Ideally we would have a robust system of care outside the ER,” said Dr. Jones.

So as it stands, the family doc gets called first, because same-day urgent appointments are sometimes available. If the doc is unavailable, next they they can check in at medimap.ca, a list of all the walk-in medical clinics in Chilliwack with their approximate wait times. There’s also the option of calling 8-1-1 for HealthLink BC around the clock, or crisis lines in some cases.

What if it’s a critical or life-threatening condition? That is precisely when people are directed to call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

This new education campaign is part of a broader effort across the Fraser region, which has proven successful in reducing the non-emergency visits to the ER.

“We believe that this campaign could have a significant impact on our community, just as it has with neighbouring communities,” said Petra Pardy, executive director, Health Service Areas Chilliwack, Hope & Agassiz, for Fraser Health.

Similar efforts in White Rock-South Surrey, where the campaign started, saw visits to Peace Arch Hospital cut down by more than 1,100 in the first year.

“We expect to see compounded results as the message spreads throughout the community and changes the way people think about their health care options.”