New phone service aims to help Montreal families quickly book medical appointments for kids

The Montreal Children's Hospital Emergency Department is overcrowded. Thursday December 29, 2016. Global News

Two Montreal pediatric hospitals have joined forces to announce the creation of a new system allowing families to quickly book a medical appointment for a child who is sick but does not need emergency care.

In a news release, hospital officials said The One Call, One Appointment phone line was put in place to help alleviate emergency room congestion at both the Montreal Children’s Hospital and the CHU Sainte-Justine.

Officials at both facilities say their emergency rooms have been extremely busy in the past few weeks, resulting in long wait times for families and increasing pressure on hospital staff.

Dr. Robert Barnes, associate director of professional services at the Montreal Children’s Hospital pointed out that emergency rooms are “designed and equipped to save children who are in critical condition.”

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Now, rather than heading to the emergency department, parents can call 514 890-6111, where they can expect to be matched with a pediatric appointment within a few hours. Those appointments will be dispatched among the city’s 80 family medicine groups and 350 medical clinics.

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Children and the 4th Wave

Officials said the service is available for children from 0 to 16 years of age on the island of Montreal from 8:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

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“It is intended to provide rapid occasional care,” said Dr. Marc Girard, director of professional services at the CHU Sainte-Justine. “This is a simple and effective solution to support parents faced with a one-off, semi-urgent health problem.”

Parents, however, are being asked to try booking an appointment with their family doctor before turning to the One Call, One Appointment phone service for help. An online option is also available on the Quebec government website.

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Likewise, if a child is suffering from “an acute health problem” and their general condition is deteriorating, parents should call emergency services.

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