Hospital expands virtual ED


Michaela Meade

Northern Health’s virtual emergency department (ED) has extended its operating hours to further support the community during the COVID-19 peak period.

The virtual ED was launched in October last year and allows patients to speak with emergency nurses and doctors from the comfort of their home, work or even car.

During the peak COVID-19 period, it will be open from 1pm to 11.30pm.

Emergency physician Loren Sher said the extended hours are a temporary change so that residents can have increased access to the service.

“In many instances, we will be able to manage a patient’s condition at home,” Dr Sher said.

“Patients that need to attend the ED will be advised when it’s best to attend for their condition, and will be given advice on how to manage their condition at home until they are seen in the ED.

“This way, patients will spend the least amount of time in the waiting room and the ED.”

The virtual ED also reduces the COVID-19 exposure risk, and allows medical teams to deliver quicker care to patients.

“With the current COVID-19 situation, we know our community are worried about accessing emergency care, so we are happy to provide advice on how and when to come in,” Dr Sher said.

The virtual ED is available to anyone living in the hospital’s catchment area, and a Medicare card is not necessary to use the service.