Central Health is pleased to announce it is continuing to advance virtual care options for patients and clients in Central Newfoundland with the implementation of Virtual Emergency Rooms.
The Regional Health Authority has always been actively engaged in virtual care, however, greater focus was placed on this approach in March 2020 with the start of the global pandemic. Since that time, many patients have used virtual care to meet their primary care needs. Enhancements in virtual care options give patients access to primary care providers via phone or video appointments, including appointments with the Health Hubs located in Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor for non-urgent and non-emergent concerns.
Given ongoing recruitment and retention challenges experienced in rural healthcare, Central Health views connecting with patients through secure video connections and by phone as the next step in the evolution of Telemedicine/Telehealth for the Regional Health Authority.
Central Health, in partnership with its Physicians, Nurses, and Allied Health, continues to integrate Virtual Care into the service delivery options available to patients for primary care, and has recently began the development and piloting of virtual care options for emergency care- the Virtual Emergency Room (v-ER).
With the current challenges in some locations for regular Physician coverage for emergencies, the establishment of a v-ER can serve to support the emergency needs of a region and its population.
How Virtual ER works
In many respects, a Virtual ER operates the same as a traditional Emergency Room.
A patient requiring Emergency Services would present to the healthcare site.
The patient will be seen and assessed by the local healthcare team, this could include a Registered Nurse and or Nurse Practitioner, and either an Advanced Care Paramedic and/or a Respiratory Therapist.
The patient will be assessed by a physician virtually and managed with the support of the team on the ground.
As required, patients would be transported to the nearest Category A Hospital – Grand Falls-Windsor or Gander –to further manage their needs.
Please note that this model of care has been implemented in many regions of Canada (Ontario, British Columbia, and the Labrador coast) and provided care for many patients in need. It is important to remember that these services are free of charge and will be offered at designated sites only. Central Health will update the public as Virtual ERs are implemented.
While this model of care is different from what residents may be used to, it is a it is a part of Central Health’s ever-changing approach to providing quality healthcare in Central Newfoundland.
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