Excellent Care for All

Emergency Department Diversion - An ER Wait Times Success Story

Health Care Challenge

Reducing emergency department wait times has been one of the province’s most important priorities. Improving the movement of people through our busy emergency departments is a multi-faceted challenge. One of the challenges is to move patients with non-urgent problems out of the emergency department and into a more appropriate setting. For patients suffering a mental health crisis, however, there are few accessible alternatives.

Real Change In Action

To reduce emergency department wait times and enhance mental health and addiction services, North York General Hospital created the Emergency Department Diversion Program – a collaborative, community-based program that provides patients experiencing mental health crises with quick access to quality care and support in an appropriate setting.  Patients enrolled in the program have access to sustained and focused mental health care and support which improves health outcomes over the long-term.  

Prior to discharge from the emergency room, a community-based crisis worker meets with the patient to assess the problem, develop a support plan and link the patient to immediate community crisis management services.

Bill Hunter met with a crisis worker after he started to have strong suicidal thoughts and ended up at the North York General Hospital emergency department. “Due to the immediate follow-up support I received from the hospital, I feel safe and more sure and confident that I will not harm myself,” said Hunter. “I wish I had gone to North York General the last time I had a similar problem.  Today, I’m on the road to recovery and I haven’t been back to the emergency department since.”

Better Quality Care

Seamless integration and efficient use of local services has reduced wait times in the emergency department at North York General and improved local services and care related to mental health.  For more than 75 per cent of patients enrolled in the program, a visit to the local emergency department is no longer necessary. 

“The Emergency Department Diversion Program delivers on two of our top priorities – reducing emergency department wait times and enhancing mental health and addictions services,” said Kim Baker, Chief Executive Officer, Central LHIN. “These patients don’t belong in the hospital, but thanks to this program, we can use that ER visit to connect them with the right mental health professionals to provide the right care at the right time.”

For more information on this innovative program, please contact :

Saul Goodman
Program Director, Mental Health
North York General Hospital
4001 Leslie Street, 7 North
Toronto, ON M2K 1E1
Phone: 416-756-6632


Mary Compton
Manager of Crisis Services
Saint Elizabeth Heath Care
90 Allstate Parkway, Suite 300
Markham, Ontario Canada L3R 6H3
Phone: 416-498-8600 ext. 5609

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