Children’s virtual emergency clinic popular with COVID concerned parents

A woman has a virtual visit with a doctor. File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / AndreyPopov

A virtual emergency clinic at London’s Children’s Hospital has proved popular for parents still apprehensive about in-person visits to the hospital amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since launching in May, the clinic has been used by more than 500 families. Of those who accessed the online service, 150 were referred to the paediatric emergency department.

The online system allows parents to speak with a paediatric emergency room physician by video to determine whether their child needs to see a family doctor or should attend the hospital’s emergency room.

“We usually see an increase in volumes [in the emergency room] once the school year begins,” Dr. Rod Lim, medical director of the paediatric emergency department at Children’s Hospital, said in a statement. “We want to remind families of this alternative care option especially with school re-openings.”

The virtual clinic’s operating hours have been adjusted to accommodate parents during the school year. It is now open seven days a week from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Hospital officials stressed a virtual visit does not replace in-person visits to the emergency department. Instead they provide a way for families hesitant to visit the hospital due to COVID-19 to reach out for care.

“Our hospitals remain safe and our community can be confident in our safety protocols,” said Dr. Paul Woods, president and CEO of London Health Sciences Centre which operates Children’s Hospital. “However, we know families might be concerned about coming to the hospital, and we are very proud to offer effective and reassuring care delivery innovations, such as the virtual paediatric emergency clinic at Children’s Hospital.”

Diagnoses and prescriptions cannot be made through virtual visits.

Anyone seeking a virtual visit can book one by calling 519-685-8735.