The exterior of the Stavro Emergency Bay with three ambulances lined up at Michael Garron Hospital

Virtual emergency care earns patient’s praise

At a time when emergency departments are stretched to their limits, Michael Garron Hospital’s virtual emergency department gets a rave review.

No one enjoys waiting for emergency care. For Sandra Bleeman, an injured pelvis meant sitting in the emergency department for hours would be impossibly painful. Fortunately, with Michael Garron Hospital’s virtual emergency service she got the care she needed without a long wait.

“It was a seamless journey,” says Sandra about her experience. In fact, she was so impressed that she wrote to Ontario’s Minister of Health to praise our hospital’s efficient service.

Sandra, who lives in North York, has worked as a physiotherapist for over 50 years. When she slipped off a kitchen chair onto a ceramic floor, the pain was so bad that she worried her pelvis was fractured. She knew she needed an x-ray but didn’t want to risk a long wait at her local hospital. Instead, on the advice of her daughter, Sandra booked a virtual appointment with Michael Garron Hospital.

“Michael Garron’s virtual service is open and they’ve got a good reputation, she told me, so why don’t you try it?” Sandra recalls. “I made an appointment for five o'clock with an emerg doctor, Dr. DeSousa, who was excellent. I can tell when somebody does a really good assessment. He was very thorough.”

Dr. De Sousa is an emergency physician at Michael Garron Hospital. He assessed Sandra’s condition during a Zoom call and helped her book an x-ray appointment. She arrived at our Stavro Emergency Department (ED) the very next day and was taken for her x-ray immediately.

“I didn't even sit down and the doctor called me in and said ‘I was just reviewing the notes and here is your requisition to go to get an x-ray,’” says Sandra.

Once results were available, Sandra met with emergency physician Dr. Himmel, who diagnosed a torn groin ligament. Sandra was glad she didn’t have a fracture. Even so, her injury would take about three months to heal.

From her arrival in the ED to when she headed home, Sandra’s appointment took an hour and 45 minutes. “It was a very efficient process,” she says.

As a physiotherapist, Sandra knows that musculoskeletal injuries are the reason for a large percentage of ED visits. After her experience here, and in light of emergency department closures province-wide, she wrote to the Health Minister to recommend that a virtual emergency service be offered in every Ontario hospital for greater efficiency.

“It’s a very good solution to help a lot of people,” says Sandra. “I’m one person, one comment, but it’s coming from a place of a lot of experience.”

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