The emergency department at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) serves as the tertiary care referral centre for Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. CHEO treats more than 65,000 patients per year and is the referral trauma centre for the region; over 800 cases per year require acute resuscitation, both trauma and non-trauma.
Because it is the only children's hospital within a catchment area of approximately 1.5 million people, CHEO has a unique place in serving acutely ill and injured children in the Ottawa region. CHEO is also the referral centre for parts of Northern Ontario and Nunavut.
Inpatient and outpatient care
To respond to the extremely varied needs of over 70,000 patients per year, with an average of over 1,300 per week, CHEO’s Emergency Department is staffed 24 hours a day by pediatric emergency medicine specialists and experienced pediatric emergency nurses, who are supported by nurse practitioners, crisis intervention workers, child life specialists, patient service clerks and patient service assistants. Services also include the Regional Pediatric Trauma Program and Regional Pediatric Sexual Assault Program.
The Emergency Department is comprised of a number of specialized areas, including trauma and resuscitation, acute zone, ambulatory zone, mental health and procedure rooms. Our division has an active point of care ultrasound program with a dedicated ultrasound machine in the department.
Our clinical programs extend beyond our walls in many ways. CHEO is the tertiary care pediatric referral centre for Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec, parts of Northern Ontario and Nunavut. As such, the department receives referral calls and advice calls every day where our specialists help to stabilize and manage acutely ill and injured patients before they arrive at CHEO.
Our department also has an active outreach program that delivers training and information to community hospital emergency departments in our area. This includes sharing our clinical care pathways, order sets and patient information sheets so that CHEO-level care can be provided to patients at their local hospital. Recently, the outreach program has expanded to include simulation-based training opportunities in partnership with our regional pediatric trauma program.
Clinical problems and diseases evaluated and followed
The Emergency Department assesses the full spectrum of acute pediatric illness and injury, as well as exacerbations of chronic disease as the main gateway into CHEO. This spectrum includes everything from neonatal problems in newborns rushed in from home deliveries through to adolescent health concerns including mental health crisis, addiction and homelessness. This dynamic variety is challenging but also exciting.
Overall, between 6 to 7 per cent of patients seen in the Emergency Department are admitted to hospital. The high proportion of patients who are able to be managed and discharged reflects the acute but minor and self-limited nature of most pediatric illnesses and injuries. In most interactions, addressing the concerns of the parents and family is as important as addressing the child or youth’s medical concerns.