Many of the approximately 66,000 children who visit CHEO’s emergency department could be avoided with a few simple measures, a focus of their latest Healthy Kids campaign.

Shakeem Parkes said he’s spent a lot of time in that emergency department recently, the third-busiest pediatric department in the country.

“I broke my arm last year and had belly problems a few weeks back,” he said, this time getting a sore foot checked out.

With a possible broken bone, doctors said Parkes’ family made the right call by coming in with a potential broke bone.

However, about 40 per cent of their 180 daily visits could have been seen by a family doctor or at a walk-in clinic.

“That’s part of the education, we’re trying to . . . empower families to understand what the natural course of having a fever is, or vomiting and diarrhea, so they can try to manage things at home,” said Dr. Ken Farion, CHEO’s medical director of emergency.

Dr. Farion said with fevers, for instance, it’s not as much how high the fever goes but how long it lasts and how old the child is.

“So very young babies or children with underlying conditions, those are kids that will potentially get very sick,” he said, adding it’s not unusual to vomit every 20 minutes on the first day.

“We see a lot of families coming after the first few episodes of vomiting because they’re concerned.”

Along with that treatment side, CHEO doctors say they want to keep the prevention side on people’s minds.

“Teaching our children and modelling good hand hygiene and good cough etiquette is really important” when it comes to preventing most childhood illnesses, Dr. Farion said.

With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Joanne Schnurr