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What is Virtual ER and what is a Temporary Closure (Diversion) of Service?

April 26, 2022

What does it mean when my health care facility has a temporary closure of service (diversion)?

In the event there is no physician available at one of our rural health care facilities (category B facility), there are two options that are considered:

  1. Virtual emergency service (Virtual ER)

  2. Temporary closure of service (diversion)

Virtual ER

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 an Advanced Care Paramedic and/or a Respiratory Therapist. An Advanced Care Paramedic and Respiratory Therapist will support airway management during Virtual ER, when required.

  • The patient will be assessed by a physician virtually from another hospital in Central Health 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.

Temporary Closure of Service

A temporary closure of a service such as the Emergency Room is an absolute last resort when there are no health care providers (including physicians, advanced care paramedics, respiratory therapists and regional nurses) who can manage a patient who arrives at the health care facility extremely unwell and who needs hands-on care that simply can’t be done over a virtual connection.

In that event, the only way to manage that patient in the safest way possible is to quickly move that patient to the closest hospital that is capable of managing those type of issues. A temporary closure of an emergency room (diversion) means you would have to go to a different emergency room than the one that you would normally go to.

When there is a temporary closure of a service at a health care facility, this means that there are NO emergency services at the site. There are NO health care providers available to respond to a phone call or visit to the site. For emergency situations, please call 911 for an ambulance response. Any health professionals on site are only able to provide care to those who are currently admitted as part of daily, routine care.

811 Residents are also reminded of the 811 HealthLine which they can avail of anytime. 811 Healthline is a confidential and free telephone line staffed by experienced Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners from 8:00am to 8:00pm. It is available to all residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, of any age.

While this model of care is different from what residents may be used to, it is a part of Central Health’s ever-changing approach to providing quality healthcare in Central Newfoundland.



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