Estimated Emergency Department wait times now published in waiting rooms at Horizon’s regional hospitals

Estimated wait times are now being shown on digital screens in Emergency Department (ED) waiting rooms at two of Horizon’s regional hospitals.

This pilot project has begun at Horizon’s Saint John Regional Hospital and The Moncton Hospital. Horizon’s Miramichi Regional Hospital, Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton and Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville will soon be publishing ED wait times.

Horizon’s ED wait times displays include:

  • the number of patients waiting; and
  • the estimated wait times for “Urgent” patients (patients triaged as CTAS level 3) and “Less Urgent” patients (patients triaged as CTAS Levels 4 or 5) to be seen by a health care provider (physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant).

“Sharing estimated wait times and patient numbers with patients in our ED waiting rooms will improve the patient experience by setting a realistic expectation for their visit,” said Dr. John Dornan, Horizon’s interim President and CEO. “The goal of these displays is to encourage the public to consider alternate options for care for non-urgent needs, helping to improve congestion throughout our hospitals and lower wait times in our EDs.”

About the triage process

Horizon Emergency Departments triage patients based on physical and mental need for care.

All Canadian health care facilities use the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) tool to determine the seriousness of a person’s illness or injury, and care for them appropriately, with the most critical being cared for first.

When patients arrive at the emergency department, a triage nurse categorizes their care as one of the following:

  • Level 1: Severe. These are conditions that are threats to life or limb. For example: cardiac arrest and major trauma.
  • Level 2: Emergent. These are conditions that are a potential threat to life, limb or function. For example: chest pains.
  • Level 3: Urgent. These are serious conditions that require emergency intervention. For example: asthma and frostbite.
  • Level 4: Semi-Urgent. These are conditions that relate to patient distress or potential complications that would benefit from intervention. For example: mild pains, such as an earache.
  • Level 5: Non-urgent. These are conditions that are non-urgent or that may be part of a chronic problem. For example: skin infections, back pain or ankle injuries.

Alternate options for less urgent needs

Patients with less urgent conditions are encouraged to consider alternate options for care, such as their primary health care provider, pharmacist, after-hours clinic, virtual care or Tele-Care 811.

For those who are unwell, but don’t require urgent care at the Emergency Department, we encourage you to visit to help choose the best option for care.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or proceed to your local Emergency Department. Emergency, critical and urgent cases are always treated as quickly as possible.

You should call 9-1-1 or seek emergency care when:

  • experiencing discomfort or tightness in the chest;
  • experiencing unusual shortness of breath;
  • experiencing abdominal pain;
  • experiencing prolonged and persistent headache or dizziness;
  • you have an injury that may require stitches or involve a broken bone;
  • you have a child with prolonged diarrhea or vomiting; or
  • you have baby under six months of age with a fever of 38°C (100.4°F) or higher.

Resources for patients

We encourage you to watch this video on What to expect when visiting a Horizon Emergency Department, as well as this video on congestion in our Emergency Departments.

As well, a Q&A on our Estimated ED Wait Times is available on our website.

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For more information contact:

Kris McDavid
Media Relations
Horizon Health Network