Emergency Department


The Emergency Department is a 40-stretcher facility. Our fully qualified emergency physicians and nurses

proudly provide emergency services to over 135 patients each and every day and up to about 50,000+ patients each year.


emergency department

If you are in need of serious medical attention, CALL 911 or go to your nearest Emergency Department.

When should I go to Emergency?

The emergency department is intended to provide emergency medical care. Emergencies include serious conditions, like a heart attacks, strokes, severe bleeding, head injuries or any other major trauma. Don't take a chance with anything that might be life-threatening - go to the emergency department.


Sometimes it is a difficult to know when you should visit a family doctor, an urgent care clinic or when to come to the emergency department. So how do you know which is the correct course of medical attention? 


The following is not a complete list, but a brief guide to problems and conditions handled best by an emergency department those suited for your family doctor/walk-in clinic. When in doubt, go to the Emergency Department. 

For Adults:


  • chest pain
  • difficulty breathing, unexpected heavy breathing or shortness of breath
  • severe bleeding or head trauma
  • sudden onset of weakness, dizziness
  • loss of consciousness
  • severe abdominal pain
  • injuries to eyes, hands, ears
  • sudden change in speech or vision
  • broken bones
  • major sprains

For Children:


In addition to the adult list, bring your child to the emergency department if they:


  • have persistent fever(>38.5 ºC/100.4 ºF)
  • have persistent vomiting/diarrhea
  • will not eat or drink ~ particularly young children

While not complete, the following list is a guideline of problems suitable for your family doctor, nurse practitioner or an urgent care clinic.


  • Minor burns or injuries
  • Sprains and strains
  • Coughs, colds, and sore throats
  • Ear infections
  • Fever or flu-like symptoms
  • Skin irritations (rashes)
  • Mild asthma
  • Prescription renewals
  • Investigation of chronic problems

If you have a minor health problem, you may consider the following options:


  • Call your family doctor or nurse practitioner first. Several family physician networks now offer after-hours and weekend care. Check out the "Know your Options" pamphlet for services in Waterloo Wellington regions.
  • If you do not have a family doctor, contact Health Care Connect (1.800.445.1822) to register for a doctor. 
    To learn who is accepting new patients in Cambridge  and surrounding area, connect with Doctors 4 Cambridge - Need a Doctor (the list will be kept up-to-date as best as possible - there are times when the webmaster is not informed the physician is not accepting anymore).
  • Click for a list of Regional Walk-in Clinics.
  • Call TeleHealth Ontario at 1.866.797.0000 to speak with registered nurses who can answer health-related question.


Emergency Services During the Holidays


Cambridge Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department is here for you when you are very sick, injured and need emergency treatment.

If you require care during the holidays, please consider the following:

  • Call your family doctor first. Several family physician networks, urgent care clinics and some pharmacies are open over the holidays. Download the "Know your Options" pamphlet for services in Waterloo and Wellington regions.
  • Call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 to speak with registered nurses who can answer health-related questions.



What to expect

Always Bring:

  • Your Ontario Health Insurance Plan card or other health insurance information
  • A list of any allergies to medications
  • A supply of any medications you are taking in case you are admitted
  • No more than one person to accompany you. Please ensure that you have appropriate in place for children left at home.

 When you arrive:

  • A trained triage nurse will see you shortly after you arrive and determine your need for care. 
  • All patients are triaged, meaning the sickest patients are always treated first. Someone with a potential heart attack or stroke will be seen before a person with a sore throat.
  • Wait times may be longer than you expected during the holidays due to the number of patients seeking treatment. They are also longer due to high patient volumes and health human resource shortages. Your patience and understanding is greatly appreciated.
  • If your condition worsens while you wait, let the nurse know.

Before you leave our hospital:

  • If you decide to leave before being seen by a doctor, please speak with a nurse. 
  • If seen by a doctor, be sure you understand the doctor’s instructions. If you are not sure, ask the doctor or nurse to explain it to you again.



Please bring any personal assistive devices that you require. For example, any communication or mobility device you may need like a walker, hearing aid, etc.


Please come prepared with:

  • Your Ontario Health Insurance Plan card or other health insurance information
  • A list of any allergies to medications
  • A supply of any medications you are taking in case you are admitted


  • Do not eat or drink without first checking with a nurse
  • Speak with a nurse if you decide to leave without seeing a doctor


Cambridge Memorial Hospital ’s Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is a 40-stretcher facility. Our fully qualified emergency physicians and nurses proudly provide emergency services to over 150 patients daily up to about 56,000+ patients each year.


There may be times when your wait is longer than usual. These web pages will help you understand when you should come to visit our emergency department, what you can expect, and how you can help us serve you more effectively. To learn more about wait times in an emergency department, check out this informative video by Dr. Mike Evans:



Take a tour of our new Emergency department (recorded December 2019, three weeks before opening)

What to expect in the Emergency Department


Soon after your arrival - regardless of whether you arrive by ambulance or by your own means - a triage nurse will assess your condition based on the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale.


This assessment allows us to determine the seriousness of your injury or illness. Once the assessment is complete, we will register you and, based on several factors, direct you to either a treatment area or the waiting area.


Please note, patients are seen based on the severity of their condition, not the order that they arrived. For example, a patient experiencing a heart attack will be seen before someone with a more minor health condition. However, if your condition worsens while you are waiting, please advise the triage nurse.


Why does Emergency get so backed up?

On occasion, our emergency department gets backed up for any of several reasons. Sometimes the volume of patients in the emergency department exceeds our capacity as defined by the number of physicians, nurses and treatment beds available. Sometimes there are no available acute care beds in the hospital to accept patients from the emergency department thereby causing patients to wait on the 40 emergency beds. Sometimes there is a wait for diagnostic testing (e.g., X-ray or ultrasound) or lab results. Sometimes the volume of emergency patients in the most severe triage categories ties up our emergency resources. When these things happen, patients can expect a longer wait for service.


We understand the frustration and anxiety this causes. Bringing reading material or toys for your child can help family members pass the time. Bring a drink, but be sure to check with the nurse before eating anything. Space in our current area  is quite small and it can become crowded. Consider bringing only one family member with you for company and assistance.


Always advise the triage nurse if your condition worsens, if you have to leave the waiting room for a few minutes or you decide to leave without being seen by a physician. Our best advice is to remain patient. You will be seen.


How is CMH reducing Emergency wait times?

Cambridge Memorial Hospital’s (CMH) Emergency Department is working to reduce wait times through innovative programming and system improvements. For example, we operate a Minor Treatment Clinic (MTC) from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., when we have a second emergency doctor or nurse practitioner. This clinic is designed to treat non-urgent and less critical cases. Patients seen in the MTC have medical conditions that do not require a treatment bed for prolonged periods of time. This helps move patient through the emergency department more efficiently. The department has also set-up a rapid assessment zone to help triage and diagnose patients in a timelier manner.


How can I help reduce Emergency wait times?

To help us efficiently respond to our community’s emergency needs, if you feel your injury or illness is minor:

  • Contact your family physician. Family physicians provide the first level of care and often have on-call arrangements to provide care evenings, weekends and holidays.
  • Contact your local urgent care clinic. You do not need to have a family physician to visit an urgent care clinic.
  • Call TeleHealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 for free access to registered nurses who will help with any health-related questions.


Telehealth Ontario


Telehealth services are also available in the community. This free telephone service may be helpful in deciding if a visit to the hospital is recommended. Call 1-866-797-0000.


This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is a free, confidential telephone service provided by Teleheath Ontario. You can call the service to get health advice or general health information from a Registered Nurse. The nurse can help assess your symptoms and help you decide your next step.




A call to Telehealth Ontario does not replace dialing 911 in an emergency. Dialing 911 is the only number you should call in emergency situations.


To use Telehealth services, you do not need to provide your O.H.I.P. number, and all information is confidential.


Telehealth Ontario services are provided in English and French, with translation support for other languages and TTY access for callers with hearing and speech difficulties. Callers can also be connected with medication information and informative audio tapes.

Don’t call the Emergency Department to ask how long the wait times are. Please check our Emergency Wait Time page. Your waiting time will depend on your condition, the number of patients seeking emergency care and the severity of the cases that need to be treated. 


All patients are treated according to need. If someone comes in after you and they require immediate care, they will be seen before you. Likewise, if you are in need of urgent care, you will be seen sooner. 

Emergency care is offered first to those who need care the most (e.g., heart attacks, severe bleeding, etc.). We cannot offer appointments or put your name on the waiting list prior to your arrival. You must be assessed by a triage nurse to determine the severity of your condition.

We cannot offer advice over the phone. You must be assessed by a triage nurse to accurately determine the severity of your condition.


The Emergency Department is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day

Phone: For an Emergency Please call 911

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