MUSKOKA, ON-Residents are advised to prepare themselves for the holiday season if someone becomes sick.

On December 18th, the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) is advising families to plan ahead of sickness. Janice Skot, the RVH President and CEO said that “we can’t stress enough that people need to be prepared and know how to access health services during the holidays.”

Family physician offices are closed over the holidays and walk-in clinics have modified their hours, this can cause the Emergency Department (ED) volumes and wait times to be higher than normal. If you do visit the ED, however, bring your health card and a list of medications.

If you are unsure is a trip to the ED is necessary, you can call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. This service provides health advice or general health information from a registered nurse. If there is a real emergency, call 911 as Telehealth will not be able to diagnose your illness or prescribe medicine.

Other suggestions include asking your doctor’s office on what back-up coverage they have, such as after-hours clinics or an on-call service, update your emergency phone numbers and post them in a viable place, have medical supplies available, know where the nearest 24-hour pharmacy is located, wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and disinfect surfaces thoroughly.

Skot said that “the safe, high-quality care remains our top priority regardless of the holiday season,” and that “we make preparations well in advance of the holidays to ensure we are adequately and appropriately staffed.”