Santé Montréal


- Public, Children's Health, Health Services

Overcrowding in Paediatric Emergency Rooms


The CHU Sainte-Justine and Montréal Children’s Hospital are currently seeing record numbers of people coming to their respective ERs. Most children and adults who go to emergency rooms suffer from mild flu symptoms, gastroenteritis and fever. In addition to spreading these viruses, the increased visits put a strain on emergency departments which leads to longer waiting times especially for non-urgent cases.

Home Care: The Best Solution

It’s important for parents to prepare for the flu season by knowing how to keep their kids healthy, how to treat minor injuries and illnesses at home, and when to see a doctor or go to the emergency department. Children who need urgent care are treated first. “Patients who come to the Emergency department with a cold, flu or gastro can expect to wait several hours before seeing a doctor in the ER. Whether you're a child or an adult, mild flu symptoms, gastroenteritis and fever that generally last 3 to 5 days can be treated at home,” said Dr. Antonio D’Angelo, Head of Emergency at CHU Sainte-Justine. Emergency departments should be reserved for people who need emergency care. If you have the flu, drink a lot of water and rest. You can also ask your pharmacist for advice on how to relieve your symptoms,” he added.

“Preventive measures, such as vaccination and practicing good breathing hygiene, are two of the best ways to reduce the number of unexpected visits to the emergency room and the long wait times that ensue,” explained Dr. Harley Eisman, Medical Director of Pediatric Emergency Services at the MUHC’s Montreal Children’s Hospital.  “Avoid spreading the flu and gastroenteritis by washing your hands regularly, sneezing into the crook of your elbow, staying home when you are sick, and avoiding contact with people who are vulnerable.” 

Alternatives to the ER

If you are sick or concerned about the health of a loved one, call Info-Santé at 811 first. The nurses at Info-Santé are available 24/7 to advise you and tell you when and who to consult.  You can also call your family doctor, visit a network clinic at one of the five integrated university health and social services centres (CIUSSS) in the Montréal region, or go to a network clinic to see a doctor without an appointment. Pharmacists can also provide excellent advice.  

For the office hours of network clinics and CIUSSS in the Montréal area, go to You can find tips and useful information to help parents better assess their children’s health on the CHU Sainte-Justine and Montréal Children’s Hospital websites. At CHU Sainte-Justine, nurses in the Centre de coordination des activités réseaux (CCAR) give advice over the telephone to direct clients to  appropriate resources. They can be reached at 514-345-4931, #0.

Public, Children's Health, Health Services

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Last Update : 30 March 2020