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Use the Emergency Department for emergencies: five ways to access the non-emergency health care you need

Have a health concern and not sure where to start? There are several avenues for getting the health care you need. Some of these choices are well known and some are newer options that you may not know about. Understanding what is available to you is key to determining which one is best suited to address your particular needs.

In emergencies, the Emergency Department is here when you need it. For critical or life-threatening conditions, including broken bones, severe breathing problems or severe bleeding call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department. It is important to note that in the emergency department those with the most urgent care are attended to first. Those with non-emergencies can therefore experience long waits and may want to consider other options.

If your health concern can be addressed without a visit to the Emergency Department, there are other options for accessing the care you need. Here are five non-emergency health care options and when to use them:

  1.  Call your family doctor. For most health concerns call your family doctor first, if you have one. Your family doctor knows you and your medical history. Same-day urgent appointments may be available. If you do not have a family doctor, we can help connect you to one through one of our Urgent and Primary Care Centres. Learn more at
  2. Call or message Fraser Health Virtual Care to speak with a Registered Nurse who will virtually provide you with a clinical assessment, advice and direct referrals to other services in Fraser Health. Fraser Health Virtual Care is available 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week. To speak with a nurse outside of these hours, call 8-1-1, HealthLinkBC.
  3. Walk into an Urgent and Primary Care Centre offering same-day care for patients with urgent, non-life threatening injuries or illness that require an assessment within 12-24 hours. These centres are located across the Fraser Health region, many which offer services on evenings and weekends. Find a location and a description of the services provided at
  4. Speak with your pharmacist for urgent medication refills. Your pharmacist may be able to provide an emergency refill of your prescription, including medications for chronic conditions. Contact your pharmacist for minor issues that might be managed with over-the-counter medications.
  5. Call the 24/7 Fraser Health Crisis Line for mental health/substance use concerns at 604-951-8855 or toll free at 1-877-820-7444. For Surrey residents, if you or your loved one has an urgent mental health or substance use concern (that does not require hospitalization), visit the Surrey Mental Health and Substance Use Urgent Care Response Centre.

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Heath care services are here for you if and when you need them. By understanding your choices, you help to ensure that you choose the best, most appropriate care to efficiently address your specific needs.

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