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This tool allows you to see hospital wait times across Metro Vancouver

Want to avoid a longer wait at a local hospital?
The Emergency Department Wait Times website provides wait times for hospitals across the Vancouver Coastal Health region including BC Children’s Hospital.

Metro Vancouverities often face wait times exceeding a couple of hours at hospitals across the region. 

While some smaller health care facilities are known for having shorter wait times, they often surprise locals looking to see an emergency physician with an unexpectedly long stay. 

But there is a tool that gives people an idea of how long of a wait they might face before they pick a hospital to visit. 

The Emergency Department Wait Times website provides current wait times for hospitals across the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) region.

Wait times are refreshed every five to 10 minutes on the platform, which are calculated on the time it takes for nearly all patients – nine out of every 10 who visit the emergency department (ED) – to be seen by a physician.

The wait times are accurate the majority of the time. But some people, roughly 10 per cent, may have to wait longer than the posted time depending on the circumstances in an individual emergency department, explains VCH. 

"For example, when patient volume increases, as patients need to first be assessed by a physician for the wait time to be recorded in the system, this can create a lag in data recording," the health authority told Vancouver Is Awesome in an email. 

VCH added that patients with life-threatening health issues are prioritized for more immediate care. Additionally, most emergency departments get busy starting around 10:00 a.m. and stay busy until 10:00 p.m. and are about 10 per cent busier on Mondays.

The "expected length of stay" is based on the average amount of time a person will stay in the hospital from the time they arrive to the time they are discharged.

Hospital wait times in Vancouver Coastal Health

A green check-mark symbol represents an emergency department that is operating normally. If it is abnormally busy and overcrowded, VCH will use the red exclamation point symbol. 

While current wait times may factor into your decision of what hospital to visit, you may also wish to consider your: familiarity with the hospital, recent previous surgeries or admission to a given hospital, and closeness to your family should you need to be admitted.

In February 2022, the BC Children’s Hospital Emergency Department (ED) was added to the Emergency Department Wait Times dashboard. The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) provided the following emailed statement V.I.A.:

"BC Children’s is committed to ensuring that every child gets the care they need and the most urgent patients are attended to first. If a medical concern is less urgent, patients have options. Children/youth and their families can use the wait times website to choose where and when to go, based on the shortest time to see a doctor. EDs can be busy and sometimes, to avoid long unnecessary waits, a child’s illness could best be treated at a doctor's office, a walk-in clinic or an urgent primary-care centre. If your child is not seriously ill but you still need medical advice, contact HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 for immediate health advice."

Patients with an urgent or emergency health issue should never delay in seeking care. If you require treatment, visit the emergency department or call 9-1-1.