Thunder Bay Regional launches a virtual ER
January 13, 2021
THUNDER BAY, Ont. – The Thunder Bay Regional Health Centre announced the start of a Virtual Emergency Department offering same-day online assessments with ED physicians. The program is available to people living in Thunder Bay and the surrounding area who are older than 17 years of age, have a non-life-threatening medical issue, and either don’t have a primary care provider or are unable to obtain timely access to one.
“The Virtual ED program provides patients with safe, quality emergency care from the comfort of their homes,” said Dr. Bradley Jacobson (pictured), chief of emergency/trauma medicine at TBRHSC. “Virtual assessments are a convenient and accessible care option for patients who qualify, especially at-risk patients who wish to avoid a trip to the hospital and time spent in a waiting room during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Each virtual appointment will be booked for 15 minutes, allowing time to establish a connection with the patient’s device, review patient details, perform the assessment and determine next steps. Referrals to community programs, specialists, diagnostic imaging procedures, lab work or prescriptions may be provided upon discharge.
The virtual assessments will be offered between 12 pm – 6 pm and can be booked by visiting www.tbrhsc.net/VirtualED. Same-day appointments will be made on a first-come, first-served basis to those who are eligible. Appointments take place through secure video chat. To participate, patients need a computer or smartphone with video, a quiet space, and internet access.
Based on current and historical trends, up to 30 ED patients per day could be eligible for a virtual appointment. This could translate to approximately 420 patients per month avoiding an in-person visit to the ED.
“We’re excited about the positive benefits this program will have for our Emergency Department and for our patients and their families,” said Lisa Beck, director of trauma, prehospital programs, emergency, critical care and Nurse Led Outreach Team at TBRHSC. “In addition to the convenience of care from the comfort of people’s homes, diverting unnecessary visits to our ED will result in increased overall capacity and reduced wait times for those who still need to attend in person.”
“Patients who are having a medical emergency, or having serious signs of symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, as an example, or having a mental health crisis should go to the emergency department,” she said.