May 11, 2020
Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) has launched a virtual emergency clinic for families who are concerned that their child may require emergency care.
Beginning Monday, May 11, parents and children can speak to a paediatric emergency room physician by video to discuss the child’s condition and, together, determine next steps such as seeing a primary care provider, or coming to the Children’s Hospital Emergency Department.
“As care providers, we are concerned that families may be waiting too long to seek the care their children need, inadvertently allowing some conditions to worsen,” says Dr. Rod Lim, Medical Director, Paediatric Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital. “This virtual clinic is for parents and children who feel they need care, but are unsure whether the Emergency Department is the right place. If a child is in medical distress immediately call 911 or go to the Emergency Department.”
The virtual clinic will operate 7 days a week from 3 pm – 7 pm and does not replace in-person visits to the Emergency Department; rather, it provides a way for families to reach out for care if they may be hesitant to visit the hospital because of COVID-19. “We understand that some families are scared to come into the hospital, but we want to assure families that the Emergency Department is open and safe for urgent and emergent care” explains Dr. Lim. “This virtual clinic gives families an alternative care option.”
Parents seeking a virtual visit can call 519-685-8735 between 3 pm - 7 pm and will be connected with clerical staff who will generate a patient registration and send an email invitation to join a Cisco Webex meeting. This invitation will include instructions to download the software on their smartphone or laptop, and what to expect during their appointment.
When the parent and patient join the Webex meeting, they’ll be placed in a private virtual waiting room. A physician will then consult with the patients/parents on a first-come, first-serve basis.
“COVID-19 is encouraging us as health-care providers to find innovative ways to treat our patients,” explains Dr. Lim. “Because we’re not seeing patients in-person, we will not be able to diagnose or prescribe medication during the virtual appointment, but we will ensure that new or developing conditions do not worsen without treatment.”
Parents should ensure their “visit” takes place in a quiet room with good lighting so that the physician can clearly see and hear the child.