FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Northern Health says residents may be waiting longer than usual at Fort St. John Hospital’s emergency room.

The health authority put out an advisory to residents last Friday, saying that the hospital is seeing a higher number of patients than usual, and some staff members are absent due to illness.

With the staffing and capacity challenges this has created for the hospital, residents are being asked to “use health care resources appropriately”. The health authority wants to also remind residents of the options for non-urgent care needs.

“Northern Health’s emergency rooms tend to patients who have experienced a sudden and unusual change in their health. This includes, but isn’t limited to, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding or pain, broken bones, chest pain, suspected overdoses, and eye injuries,” said Northern Health in a Facebook post.

To avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital, Northern Health advises patients who arent sure if they should go to the emergency department to call HealthLink BC (8-1-1) or visit www.HealthLinkBC.ca.

Patients can also book an appointment with their family doctor for non-urgent care or call the Northern Health Virtual Primary and Community Care Clinic at 1-844-645-7811.

Anyone worried about possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance is advised to call Poison Control at 1-800-567-8911.

“We appreciate the public’s support and patience while we work to ensure high standards of care for all.”