Almost all hospitals (listed in the previous section) in Vancouver have an emergency department, but there are certain hospitals you should go to in particular cases. There is no need to call ahead, simply go to the hospital, or call an ambulance if you are unable to transport yourself and/or if your condition is severe. All children under the age of 17 must go to the BC Children’s Hospital Emergency Department, as the doctors and nurses there are specially trained in pediatrics and can provide the best possible care for your child. If you take your child to any other hospital, you will be referred to the Children’s Hospital as soon as you approach the check-in desk. Once at the hospital you will need to show your CareCard, but, if you are in an accident and don’t have your CareCard or any form of ID on your person after arriving at the hospital, rest assured you will still receive treatment. Hospital authorities will make every effort to find you in the system once identification can be established. Your identify can be verified with just your name, date of birth, and perhaps your address/phone number.
BC Children’s Hospital uses a triage system to determine which children are most in need of medical care; the sickest children will be seen first. The first step is to see the Triage Nurse, as soon as you enter the Emergency Department (ED).
This nurse evaluates your child’s condition and places him or her on the list of children waiting to see the doctor (sometimes if it is very busy, you will sign in with the triage nurse, complete registration, and then be called back for the actual triage evaluation). You will then be directed to the Registration Desk, where you must present your child’s CareCard (if you don’t have one yet, please make sure to bring passports and other official identification; you may be asked for payment up front). Please make sure to bring along any other official identification you have, both for yourself and your child, in case it is needed. You will be asked for some information such as address, phone number, etc.
Once the registration process is complete, your child will be issued a hospital blue card, which will be given to you upon discharge (if not, please ask for it), and this card can be used again should your child need to return to the ED at any time. Your child will also be given a hospital bracelet to wear, for identification and security purposes. Next, you will probably need to wait in the waiting room until your child’s name is called. Sometimes the wait is lengthy, during peak times and flu season, but, rest assured that if your child is very ill, they will be seen before other children. If you feel your child’s condition is worsening, or you are very concerned about your child’s condition, please tell the nurse. For example, if your child is experiencing a diarrheal illness and you feel he or she is becoming dehydrated, please ask the nurse for some oral rehydration solution (Pedialyte) that your child can sip on while you wait. ED staff at the BC Children’s Hospital are kind, caring, hard-working professionals who are experts in their field and are dedicated to ensuring the best possible treatment for your child.
BC Children’s Hospital
4500 Oak Street
BC Children’s Hospital Emergency Department information: http://www.bcchildrens.ca/YourVisit/Emergencies.htm
Welcome to BC Children’s Hospital Emergency Department pamphlet: http://www.bcchildrens.ca/NR/rdonlyres/47824BCA-4E34-47F2-8804-4270FA1D3CA4/27365/WelcometoEmergencypamphlet.pdf
One of the best hospitals to go to for an adult emergency is the Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), or, if you are downtown, St. Paul’s Hospital. Both are large, teaching hospitals providing a wide range of services. VGH has a helicopter transport, and St. Paul’s is an academic center for research. When you first enter the Emergency Department, you will need to sign in at the front desk. Make sure to bring two pieces of identification with you, including your BC Driver’s License, your CareCard, and your passport, just in case. Sometimes there is a lineup if you arrive during a peak time. During flu season you may be asked to wear a face mask (provided by the hospital) if you have a fever and/or a cough. This is to minimize the spread of germs. After sign in you will be directed to the triage nurse, and you may need to wait your turn. After your condition is assessed by the triage nurse, you will be directed to wait in the waiting room until a doctor is able to see you. You can rest assured that you will be seen as quickly as possible, and that you will receive the best possible care.
For those on MSP, you should not expect to pay anything for emergency visits and hospital stays (particularly true if you also have extended health, which most people here do; this would cover “extras” like crutches, etc.). If you don’t have your CareCard yet, it is likely you will need to pay the hospital fees up front, or at least, before you are discharged. Because hospital stays in Canada can be very expensive for those not covered under MSP or by any other insurance, it is wise to ensure that you have interim insurance that will at least reimburse you for expenses incurred during an emergency and/or hospital stay. Hospitals will accept cash and credit cards for payment, and some might be able to accept debit (Interac) cards as well.
Sometimes you might need to check in to the hospital for scheduled procedures, like tests or surgery. For adults, the best way to prepare for this is to read the VGH Patient and Family Handbook, which can be found here: http://www.vch.ca/media/VGH_patient_family_handbook_english.pdf. This handbook provides detailed information on what to bring to the hospital, what you can expect during your stay, and discharge procedures at the end of your stay. Although the book is put out by VGH, procedures are much the same in any Vancouver hospital.
For children, the BC Children’s Hospital provides detailed information on what you can expect during your child’s scheduled stay, which can be found here: http://www.bcchildrens.ca/YourVisit/default.htm. Children’s encourages parents to stay with the child as much as possible during his or her stay, and provides chair-beds in the patient rooms so that one parent may stay overnight with the child.