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A new trip to virtual emergencies is now within reach

Three Toronto Hospital Networks Team Up To Offer Online Visits To Help With Patient Crush

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It’s like going to the emergency room without having to travel all the way to the hospital.

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While Ontario expects hospitalizations to peak in mid-January – and intensive care admissions to peak in February – three Toronto hospital networks are offering virtual emergency room visits.

“Initially, the main focus was to try to offload some of these visits from patients who would otherwise have nowhere to go,” said Dr. Alun Ackery, deputy chief of the emergency department at St. Michael. “And would end up in the ER and a non-urgent medical problem.”

Unity Health, Sunnybrook and University Health Network (UHN) now have a unified virtual emergency service which can be found at TorontoVirtualED.ca.

It allows people to schedule same day appointments using a phone, smartphone, tablet or computer.

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The service is for people who have an urgent medical problem that is not life threatening and who are unable to make an appointment with a family doctor or nurse practitioner.

The virtual service has been a pilot project for a year.

“They really did their best to help me get the care I needed. I would use the service again in a heartbeat if anything else presented itself, ”a patient told Unity Health.

“It gave me such peace of mind to be able to speak to a doctor at home – especially when I would need to arrange childcare if I had been to the emergency room in person,” said one. other patient.

Dr Ackery says that while some people avoid face-to-face appointments due to concerns about COVID, emergencies remain safe.

“There are a lot of people who are avoiding care right now because they fear being hurt,” he said. “Our emergency services are always very safe.”

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But they are busy. Especially with Omicron.

The hospital’s initiative continues as Ontario faces a slew of new hospitalizations.

On Tuesday, the chief of Ontario Health issued a note of optimism.

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“The rate of increase in hospitalizations appears to be slowing. And the positivity rate on our PCR network seems to be slowing down, ”said Matthew Anderson.

There is no guarantee that the trend will continue.

In the meantime, the three hospital networks hope that the virtual option will be able to accommodate some of the patients with other medical problems.

“It continues and expands at the perfect time,” Dr. Ackery said.

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