The IWK Emergency Department (ED) provides attentive and thorough emergency care to children and youth until their 16th birthday and to those with mental health concerns until their 19th birthday. We care for about 44,000 patients in the emergency department every year.
How we help
The IWK's emergency department is the only one in the Maritimes that specializes in the care of infants, children, and youth. We’re also the only Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Centre east of Quebec. All members of the Emergency Department are highly trained in emergency care. We understand that parents/guardians and families are anxious and concerned about their child's health, and we take our role in your child's health very seriously.
Emergency Mental Health and Addictions Service
The Emergency Mental Health and Addictions Service is available to children and youth (until their 19th birthday) who are experiencing an urgent mental health concern. The team is made up of social workers and nurses who are able to consult with a psychiatrist. They provide an assessment, crisis stabilization, safety planning, and discharge planning for the next step of care for children and youth with mental health concerns.
Visit the Emergency Mental Health and Addictions page for more information
Research and education
The IWK is a teaching hospital. We're affiliated with Dalhousie University as well as a member of national and international research networks on pediatric emergency care. This is why, should you need to visit the Emergency Department, you may be invited to participate in a research study. We also have an active simulation program for staff and student training.
Patient and family partnership
The IWK aspires to deliver an exceptional experience by engaging patients and families as partners in co-creating care delivery. Patient and family representatives work with us to improve the care and services that patients and families receive in our department. If you're interested in being a patient or family representative, please email EDFamilies@iwk.nshealth.ca.
Before your visit
You may want to call your family doctor before deciding to come to the Emergency Department—if there’s time to do so. In Nova Scotia, families can also call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse, who will help you decide if your situation requires emergency care. Of course, if your situation is an emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.
If you believe your child may have ingested a medication or poison, or came in contact with a harmful substance, call the IWK Regional Poison Centre at 1-800-565-8161.
Please bring your child’s medications with you when you come to the Emergency Department.
During your visit
You can be confident that you and your child will receive the best care in the most efficient and compassionate manner possible.
When you arrive, your child will be assessed by a triage nurse. The triage nurse will start any care that is needed to make your child more comfortable. A registration clerk will verify your information and update your child’s health record. Some children will be brought to an exam room right away, other children may have to wait in the waiting room until an exam room is available. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s condition, please notify the triage nurse if you are in the waiting room or use the call bell in the exam room.
An emergency nurse and physician or nurse practitioner will examine your child and provide you with information about the illness or injury that brought you to the Emergency Department. They may order tests such as blood or urine tests or an x-ray. They may also give your child medication or provide you with a prescription. Sometimes a specialist may need to see your child in the Emergency Department or a referral may be made to see a specialist at a later time. In most cases, follow-up with your family doctor is recommended. Some children need to be admitted to the hospital. If your child needs to stay in the hospital, you and your child will be brought to an inpatient area as soon as possible after the decision to admit has been made.
Depending on your situation, you may meet nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, care team assistants, pharmacists, social workers, child life specialists, ward clerks, registration clerks, unit aides, protection services officers, respiratory therapists, x-ray technicians, lab technicians, or a number of other health care workers as well as volunteers. Plus, since IWK Health is a teaching hospital, you may also meet medical, nursing, and paramedic students.
After you leave
We'll try our best to answer all your questions and concerns while you’re in the Emergency Department. We may also provide you with resources to use at home, like handouts or links to useful websites or videos. We'll call you if any of your child’s test results require follow up. If your child is not improving, or if you’re worried, we recommend you return to the Emergency Department. Your family doctor or 8-1-1 can also help you with any concerns you may have.
If you'd like to provide feedback about your Emergency Department visit, we encourage you to submit any compliments, suggestions, or concerns to the IWK Feedback Coordinator who can be reached at 1-855-495-2273 (IWK CARE) or 902-470-7435 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accessing this Clinic, Program or Service
The IWK's Children's Emergency Department entrance is located on South Street (near Robie Street), opposite Gorsebrook Junior High School.
From within the IWK, the Emergency Department is located on the 1st floor of the Link Building - take the green elevators to the 1st floor.
A limited number of parking spaces are available near the Emergency Department entrance. Parking is also available in the IWK parkade (entrance off of University Avenue). There is no charge for parking for Emergency Department visits. Street parking is also available on South Street, Robie Street and University Avenue (Halifax street parking restrictions and charges apply).
When traveling to the IWK Children’s Emergency Department, please follow the green “H” signs, with the words “Children’s Emergency” written below the “H”, and the IWK Health logo just above the “H”.