The St. Joseph's Troubleshooters

medicalWhen Grand River Hospital in Kitchener-Waterloo shut down its emergency ward, Health Minister George Smitherman sent in a team of troubleshooters from St. Joseph's Health Centre. Apparently, St. Joseph's has one of the best emergency wards in the province. Only a few months ago I experienced the St. Joseph's emergency procedure first hand and wrote "Hurry Up and Wait" about the ordeal.

The lack of wait at St. Joe's is really an illusion of sorts. You're periodically shuffled from one wait to another as opposed to suffering through one long wait at the very beginning. The benefits are that you get to see a triage nurse right away and I only had to wait about two hours before I got to a point where they offered me pain killers. Here were the eight waits, totaling approximately five hours.

Wait #1: Triage Nurse - Upon arrival, you've got to check in. I was third in line which made this wait bearable. If you show up with something clearly life threatening, you get to move to the front of this line!

Wait #2: Registration - After checking in with the triage nurse, you get to sit down for a while and wait to be called by the registration desk. This was only a half hour wait, but keep in mind it was really early on a Monday morning. On the bright side, they had a TV in this room and they were airing live action from the French Open.

Wait #3: Ambulatory - Here you leave your chart and sit down for an hour or two. Luckily, there's a TV in this area airing CBC Newsworld. 60% of the broadcast was about the terrorist bust this weekend and 35% was about the Stanley Cup final kicking off tonight. The other 5% was the weather forecast. This wait is to see a nurse, not an actual doctor.

Wait #4: The Doctor - After being reviewed by a nurse in a little room I was actually sent to a different little room to wait for a doctor. I'm now in my fifth waiting location and about three hours into my hospital stay.

Wait #5: Blood Work - After finally seeing a doctor I was asked to wait for another nurse who would take my blood. In the meantime, I'm asked to give a urine sample.

Wait #6: X-Ray - After giving up a couple of bodily fluids it was time for an x-ray. This wait takes place in the same place as wait #3 which means more news about the terror arrests, more shots of the CN Tower, TSX and Peace Tower and more discussions with police officers, RCMP and Muslim community leaders.

Wait #7: Results - This was supposed to be the last wait. I was back in front of CBC Newsworld awaiting word from the doctor regarding my urine, blood and x-ray. From what I could tell, they were looking for something related to my kidneys which could explain the back pain. The next time my name is called, I'd be done... or so I thought.

Wait #8: Results II - They called my name after wait #7 and told me they needed more blood. Did they lose the original vial? Were they double checking because I tested positive for something serious? Why were they tapping my poor veins for more juice? I was afraid to ask and just did what I was told like a good Canadian boy.

Remember, this is the best our province has. Other hospitals are actually worse. Some, like the Grand River Hospital, even lock their doors.

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Comments (7 - click here to join in!)


I'm just curious why you chose to go to the Emergency Department rather than an urgent care clinic.

October 3, 2006 @ 1:48 PM


Are you sincerely not familiar with these type of clinics or is that sarcasm I detect? I also wonder if urgent care clinics are more readily available in more rural areas than where you reside. Many of these centres have been fueled by the significant savings that urgent care centers provide over the care in a hospital emergency department. Urgent care medicine is the care of any patient of any age who has an immediate but non-emergent medical need. Urgent care clinics are equipped to care for patients with such problems as: cough, allergy symptoms, mild to moderate asthma, fever, many infections (sinus, ear, respiratory, skin, bladder, kidney, intestinal), rashes, wounds, sprains, simple fractures, abdominal pain, and headaches.The “walk-in” basis of urgent care clinics is convenient for patients. The waiting times and overall treatment times are, on average, significantly less than that for similar evaluation and treatment in the emergency room .In many communities, urgent care clinics are already filling the acute-care void, giving patients an option to waiting for appointments with their physicians or using the emergency room. Urgent care facilities are typically open 6-7 days per week and have extended hours (e.g. 8am-8pm). Is there not an Urgent Care Clinic affiliated with The University of Toronto?

October 3, 2006 @ 4:35 PM

Mike Boon

Ok, I know about clinics, they're all over the place, but I'm not familiar with urgent care centers.

If I go to a clinic, they just refer me to some place that does x-rays. I go to the hospital b/c I know they have all the equipment in house. Also, I should point out, this was 5am.

Where are these urgent care places in the 416 and why haven't I heard of them?

October 3, 2006 @ 4:38 PM

Mike Boon

Ok, no wonder I don't know about these places. They're all north of the 401.

The closest one to me is way up above the Woodbine racetrack. St. Joe's has a great kids clinic and I've decided to remain healthy eliminating the need to urgent care, clinics or hospitals.

October 3, 2006 @ 6:26 PM


If only we could all have such a proactive attitude about our health.

October 3, 2006 @ 6:31 PM

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