Visits to the Halifax emergency department rise to ‘pre-COVID-19’ numbers

Visits to the Halifax emergency department rise to ‘pre-COVID-19’ numbers

The number of emergency department visits in Halifax is on the rise as cases of the novel coronavirus in the province remain low.

When the first reported cases of COVID-19 began trickling into Nova Scotia, the Halifax Infirmary emergency department had thorough screening protocols put into place to help reduce the risk of transmission for anyone who came through the doors.

But for the most part, those who weren’t in need of emergency care stayed home.

“Patients with lower acuity illness, or, injuries, probably stayed away from the emergency department because they didn’t want to be exposed to COVID-19,” said Dr. Janet MacIntyre, the chief of the Halifax Infirmary department.

“There’s also a significant change in our lifestyle.

“So, people weren’t out maybe doing some of the activities that they had done before, that might expose them to injury.”

Dr. Janet MacIntyre says the first wave of COVID-19 came with a significant reduction in low-acuity emergency department visits.

Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

Dr. MacIntyre estimated there was between a 45 to 50 per cent reduction in daily emergency department visits.

However, there wasn’t much of a change in the number of visits for patients presenting significant illnesses or injuries.

“Our higher acuity patients, our sicker patients, were still coming to the emergency department. So, we didn’t have a drastic drop in that patient population. It seemed to be more of the lower acuity patients,” she said.
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