sunnybrook hospital

You can now visit the ER of a Toronto hospital from your computer

If you're ever in a situation where you think you might need to head to the emergency room in Toronto but are worried about the risks of COVID-19 exposure and more, there's now a new solution that will allow you to access the expertise of a local ER doctor without even leaving your home.

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is trying out new technology with the help of the University Health Network and Unity Health that will allow residents of Ontario to book a virtual appointment with a real doctor from the lauded hospital's emergency department for "urgent but non life-threatening" concerns.

The VirtualED pilot, which already launched on Tuesday, will run via Zoom from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays for the next six months, with same-day slots opening by noon.

The facility revealed in a press release that it saw a drop in emergency room visits back in the spring due to the fact that people were afraid of catching the communicable disease in a hospital setting, and so forfeited the opportunity to seek care for potentially serious medical issues.

"By offering same-day virtual appointments with emergency department physicians, this pilot aims to reach patients in their homes so that they do not have to come to the hospital. It also aims to service under-served populations, reduce wait times and improve the patient and family experience," it said.

Before using the service, patients are encouraged to try and visit their family doctor or their local emergency department in-person if possible. Users should also note that they must have a valid Ontario health card before booking, and that their condition must be stable.

If they believe their life may be in danger, they should forego the online option seek medical IRL attention immediately.

Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Health Christine Elliott assured residents in their daily press conference on Wednesday that the province's hospital system is not in crisis like other province's are on the brink of, though some patients may be moved to care centres in other regions to get certain surgeries and procedures that have been backlogged due to COVID-19.

The new virtual alternative comes just days after a supermarket in the city launched a similar initiative for virtual grocery shopping that feels like the real thing, showing just how innovative companies have been in coping with the pandemic.

Lead photo by

Drew Gill/Google

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