April 20th, 2020
Since COVID-19 appeared in Waterloo Region, the number of patient visits to St. Mary’s and Grand River Hospital Emergency Departments has declined significantly. Physicians became worried that people with urgent and emergent issues needing assessment were choosing not to come to the department out of fears of contracting the virus.
Taking a creative approach, the physicians implemented virtual Emergency Department visits at both hospitals on April 15. “The hope is to divert those patients who can be managed at home or by their family doctor or a walk-in clinic, and to ensure that those who truly need emergency care access the department in a timely manner to avoid serious health consequences,” said Dr. Nick Cornell, Medical Director of the Emergency Department at St. Mary’s.
This service does not replace a patient’s family physician. For non-emergent issues, patients are encouraged to see if their family physician is available and offering virtual visits before using this service.
In the first week of operation, quite a few of the patients who used the service had severe medical issues and needed to come to hospital. As always, patients with a medical emergency should call 911.
“We assure them that there are separate areas for patients with and without potential COVID-19 symptoms, and that all proper precautions are being taken, including screening of everyone entering the building, rigorous hand hygiene and environmental cleaning, universal masking and maintaining physical distancing wherever possible,” Dr. Cornell said.
The virtual visits gives patients the option to schedule a same day virtual assessment with a local ED physician if they have an urgent health concern (non-emergency) and do not wish to come to the emergency department. In a medical emergency, call 911 right away.
Clinic hours are Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
How do I book an appointment?
Call 519-749-2024 to schedule a same day virtual consult with an SMGH emergency physician.
Appointments will be booked only for the current day you are calling. Your appointment may be scheduled anytime between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., depending on the order in which your call was received.
What do I need in order to get a virtual assessment?
In order to access this option you must have:
- Valid Ontario Health Card
- Email address
- Stable internet connection
- Computer with a microphone, camera, and speaker; or an Android or Apple smartphone
What do I need in order to get a telephone assessment?
In order to access this option, you must have:
- Valid Ontario Health Card
- Telephone number where you can be reached
If I’m not able to book an appointment, what other options are available?
Appointments are booked on a first come first served basis. If we cannot schedule an appointment, there are a number of other health care options available for you. Click here to learn more.
How is this service different than TeleHealth Ontario?
Your virtual appointment will take place through a video conference call with an emergency physician whereas Telehealth services are offered over the phone by a registered nurse.
What if I believe I have COVID-19 symptoms?
Avoid contact with others. Please notify Waterloo Region Public Health for instructions before coming to hospital at 519-575-4400. Take a self-assessment on-line here.