Winter holiday tips

With many doctors’ offices, health service providers and walk-in clinics operating at reduced hours over the holidays, hospital emergency departments can get crowded and seeking health care at this time of year can become a frustrating experience.

Here are some tips and community resources that may help you access the care you need a little more smoothly and help you find what you are looking for over the holidays.

Protect yourself and others:

  • Make sure you and your loved ones are protected. Get your annual flu shot and stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer regularly, especially after opening gifts or before preparing, serving and eating food.
  •  If you are sick and experiencing any symptoms, stay home to prevent possible transmission. Events and gatherings have the potential to increase the risk of spreading viruses, especially for those who are at high-risk of severe disease and/or exposure to the flu or respiratory viruses. Follow public health guidance to protect yourself and others.

Plan ahead:

  • Talk about your health care needs with your care team this holiday season. Know who is available to support you and how to reach them over the holidays.
  • Schedule any needed medical appointments before the holidays. Some offices may be closed or have shorter hours, so make sure your appointments are booked in advance.

Don’t forget to shop for yourself:

  • Make sure you have a two-week supply of inhalers, oxygen, needles, glucose testing supplies or any other equipment you will need to manage your health and wellness during the holiday season.
  • Don’t forget to also check to see that you have enough prescription, non-prescription medication and supplies to last you and your family over the holiday season. Some pharmacies will have shorter hours, so, if you can, stock up on what you’ll need ahead of time.

Know where to go for help

  • If your doctor or nurse practitioners’ office is closed, find alternatives such as walk-in clinics and urgent care by using the HealthLine tool. Learn how to search your local Healthline in the video provided below.
  • Update your list of emergency contacts and post them in a visible place, like on the fridge. Remember to add Health811 (formerly Telehealth Ontario) at 1-866-797-0000 for free, confidential, 24-hour access to a registered nurse who will help you with health-related questions.
  • If you need urgent medical attention, for example, you have shortness of breath, severe chest pain or stroke symptoms, even if you are uncertain, always call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
  • Holidays can be mentally tough. Take time to find supports and put your mental health first.

Find services close to home by searching your local Healthline

Healthline is an innovative website that puts accurate and up-to-date information about health services at your fingertips. This website provides easy access to a reliable source of data and empowers you to find the services you need close to home. Thousands of service listings describe organizations and programs serving people in your area and across the province.

Learn how to navigate this easy-to-use online database in this demonstration video.

Access your local Healthline site