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Children’s Hospital emergency department to undergo much needed expansion

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It’s a busy place on any given day, with patience tested and families under stress.

But the emergency department at Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre is about to undergo a much needed expansion.

“It is very challenging in a confined space,” said Dr. Rod Lim, medical director, paediatric emergency department. “I think all of us who have had children who have had to wait in not ideal circumstances understand how difficult that is, and we certainly do.”

The Children’s Hospital Foundation at LHSC has announced $3 million in funding for an emergency department expansion at Children’s Hospital -- and not a moment too soon to keep up with increasing demands, said Lim.

“The demand, in terms of the number of patients that have come in, and the complexity of the patients has certainly escalated a lot in the last five years,” he said.

The expansion will add eight new care spaces, and support additional capacity for paediatric mental health patients, said Foundation President and CEO Scott Fortnum.

“We’re seeing a lot of children presenting with, at very young ages, with mental health issues that need to be addressed. If we can help get them addressed early there’s a better likelihood of a positive outcome,” explained Fortnum.

The expansion comes as smaller hospitals across Ontario are forced to close ERs. According to Ontario’s Auditor General, in the one year period beginning in July 2022 there were 203 ER closures at 23 hospitals.

The closures put pressure on larger urban hospital centres.

“We have children flying in from Thunder Bay, areas up north, K-W, Waterloo, Guelph, Owen Sound, Windsor Sarnia,” said Fortnum.

“Our space was originally designed for twenty some thousand visits and we’re up to what, forty-five thousand visits now,” said added Lim. “We’ve grown so much in the past few years that we are literally on top of each other.”

The Children’s Hospital emergency department expansion gets underway in January with completion set for next June. 

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