Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital launches virtual emergency department

Dec 11 2020, 9:21 am

Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital is testing a new virtual emergency department, allowing patients to speak to doctors via phone or video.

The service will be in place from December 2020 until May 2021 in an effort to make it easier for patients to access urgent care.

Half-hour virtual visits are available from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Monday to Friday. Bookings open at noon each day.

“This is a safe and private way for patients to connect with health-care providers that reduces the need for travel to and within the hospital,” said Unity Health, which encompasses St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre, and Providence Healthcare.

St. Michael’s notes that virtual appointments are not a replacement for in-person care and that their regular emergency department will remain open for urgent care. Virtual appointments are not intended to address all medical concerns.

The hospital lists a range of symptoms, including chest pains, breathing problems, and loss of vision, that should be treated by an in-person visit to the nearest emergency room.

Earlier this month, Sunnybrook Hospital launched its own virtual emergency department, with appointments taking place over Zoom.

On Thursday, provincial health officials released new COVID-19 modelling data, which shows that Ontario’s ICU occupancy will continue above 200 beds for the next month.

Ontario reported 1,848 new COVID-19 cases on Friday morning and 45 new deaths – the highest death count since early June.