May long weekend is the signal that the summer tourist season is upon us in the Shuswap, as evidenced by the higher traffic volumes on the Trans-Canada, the longer lines at grocery stores and the many boats heading out on the lake.
The addition of summer tourists, effectively doubling the region’s population, also puts a strain on some of the community’s usual resources, especially emergency health care.
This can mean increased wait times for ambulances should crews be out on multiple calls, and can put a strain on resources in the Emergency Room of Shuswap Lake General Hospital.
Undoubtedly emergencies happen, on roads, in the back country or on the lake. And these genuine emergencies need to take priority.
At a time when resources might be strained, it would be good for all residents of this area, and our visitors as well, to take care to determine the appropriate level of their health care needs.
A sunburn isn’t an emergency, neither is a cold, ear infection or a short bout of stomach flu. These conditions are not ER-worthy. They can be handled with a visit to a family doctor or walk-in clinic. Salmon Arm offers a wide range of these medical options every day except Sunday. So think long and hard as to whether your situation is a true emergency before heading for the ER.
B.C. also has a HealthLink line, accessed by calling 811, which allows people to speak with a nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Using discretion in health care can save the taxpayers money, but also ensure services are not tied up for those patients in critical need of care.