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What to expect when you come to the emergency department for care

When you arrive at an emergency department in the central zone, you must first be registered. During the registration process you will be assessed by a triage nurse or paramedic. 
Triage staff will ask questions about why you are here. They will check your breathing, pulse, blood pressure and temperature. They will also ask about existing health conditions, medications and pain levels. 

Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) Health Services emergency department follow the Canadian Emergency Department Triage and Acuity Scale (CTAS) and the following triage levels: 

1 - Critical (life threatening condition: such as major trauma from a motor vehicle accident or your heart has stopped)
2 - Urgent (potentially life-threatening condition; such as chest pain, severe bleeding)
3 - Needs help soon (potentially serious condition; such as an asthma attack)
4 - Minor or Chronic problems (non-urgent: such as a headache)
5 - May need help or advice (non-urgent: such as sore throat, minor cuts and bumps)

If you or someone in your care has an urgent medical condition or is experiencing a health crisis,
go to the nearest ED or call 9-1-1.

Examples of urgent/critical medical conditions (CTAS levels 1 & 2):

  • Discomfort or tightness in the chest

  • Unusual shortness of breath

  • Abdominal pain

  • A prolonged and persistent headache or dizziness

  • An injury that may require stitches or may involve a broken bone

  • Prolonged diarrhea or vomiting (especially in a child)

If it is determined that you need to visit the ED, there are a couple important points to remember:


  1. The number of people in the waiting room is never an indicator of how long your wait will be. There may be few people in the waiting room, but someone may be receiving life-saving care inside the department.

  2. Patients are called in according to their CTAS level, they are not called in on a first-come, first-serve basis.

  3. Many patients arrive by ambulance and require immediate assistance. Wait times are unpredictable and can change very quickly.

  4. There is normally only one physician in the ED at a time. Some EDs may avail of nurse practitioner services.

  5. Patients may arrive at the EDs at JPMRHC or CNRHC from another Central zone facility to see a physician or consult with a specialist. This is due to the limited services in their area.

  6. In some emergency departments, people with minor injuries or illnesses may be treated by a nurse practitioner.

What is the status of the nearest emergency department? 

In the event there is no physician available at one of our rural health care facilities (category B facility), there are two options that are considered:

  1. Virtual emergency service (Virtual ER)

  2. Temporary closure of service (diversion)

When a Virtual ER is operating, residents can proceed to the ER as usual. There will be a health-care professional onsite, as well as a physician or nurse practitioner (NP) by video.

Learn about Virtual ER and a Temporary Closure of Service here.

Visit Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) Health Services for the list temporary closures, service changes or updates and virtual ERs. 

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Mental Health

If you or someone you know has a mental health, substance use or addiction emergency call 911. 

Other options:

  • Mental Health Crisis Line - 811

  • BridgethegApp

  • Mental Health and Addictions Systems Navigator - Call 709-752-3916 or 1-877-999-7589

  • Provincial Lifewise Warm Line - 1-855-753-2560 or 709-753-2560 (available between 11:00 am and 11:00 pm)

  • Kids Health Phone - 1-800-668-6868. Youth can text CONNECT to 686868

  • Adult Health Line - text WELLNESS to 741741

  • First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line 1-855-242-3310

  • Sexual Assault Crisis Line - 1-800-726-2743 or 709-747-7757

  • Suicide Crisis Helpline - call or text 9-8-8

  • Doorways - Directory for the Central Zone

  • FACT Team - Grand Falls-Windsor - 1-709-489-4300

  • FACT Team - Gander - 1-709-256-5575

  • Mental Health and Addictions Services in the Central Zone

  • Naloxone Kit Distribution Sites

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