COVID has kick-stared Virtual healthcare in ways that would have seemed impossible a year ago. Now virtual healthcare is getting another boost with the announcement of a joint virtual care service involving three of Southern Ontario’s major hospital organizations. St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre and Hamilton Health Sciences are partnering in a joint pilot initiative to offer virtual urgent care services to residents of southwestern Ontario. This service offers patients located outside these hospital communities the opportunity to access urgent care without leaving home.
• St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton – will provide virtual urgent care for adults
• Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre – will provide virtual urgent care for children/youth
• Hamilton Health Sciences – will provide virtual acute care consultations for long-term care home residents (currently in Hamilton and soon in Niagara North West)
Adults and families seeking a virtual urgent care consultation can visit UrgentCareOntario.ca and choose the applicable urgent care category to find out if the service is appropriate for the situation and to book an appointment. Hours of operation for adult and children/youth urgent care service are 12 noon to 8 p.m. daily. You can also call 1-844-CARE-844 (1-844-227-3844) to request an urgent care consultation. Whether respondents use the website or call, they will be connected to the appropriate hospital provider directly and provided with details on the appointment process with that provider.
Phone lines open
Health-care providers for residents in long-term care homes, in the Hamilton and Niagara North West areas, seeking a virtual acute care consultation or information on the LTC-CARES program can visit UrgentCareOntario.ca and choose the applicable urgent care pathway to learn more. They can also call 1-844-CARE-844 (1-844-227-3844) to connect with the LTC-CARES team for information about the program. Physicians or nurse practitioners, can call this number for a consultation with an emergency department physician about an LTC resident. Hours of operation are between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily (holidays included).
This virtual urgent care service does not replace in-person visits to the emergency department; rather, it provides a way for adults and families to reach out for help with urgent care needs. During the virtual appointment, the doctor will assess the patient and determine next steps, which could include diagnosing the medical issue and prescribing treatment. The doctor can prescribe new medications during the appointment if required. They can’t provide a regular refill of a medication already prescribed.