Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre has launched a virtual emergency department amid concerns that patients are avoiding hospitals due to COVID-19.
The service will allow people that have urgent but not life-threatening health concerns to book same-day, virtual appointments with emergency room doctors.
In a release, Sunnybrook said their regular emergency department saw a decrease in visits during the first wave of the pandemic. They believe the dip was likely caused by a fear of COVID-19.
With visits taking place via Zoom, the virtual emergency department is open from 2 pm to 9 pm Monday to Friday. The booking system opens each day at 12 pm.
A valid Ontario Health Card will be required to make an appointment, and patients must be in the province at the time of their virtual visit.
In addition to providing care to patients in their homes, Sunnybrook said they aim to reach under-served populations, reduce wait times, and improve patient and family experiences with the new service.
The virtual emergency department is part of a six-month pilot that also involves Unity Health and University Health Network.
Sunnybrook encourages patients to try to see their family doctor or visit an emergency department in-person before making an online appointment.