The Emergency Department at Yarmouth Regional Hospital has been facing increased challenges, due to staffing shortages and overcrowding. Complicating this further is the fact that so many of us don’t have a family doctor, so many folks have to come to the E.D. for primary care — especially if you’re someone who may have barriers to booking or accessing virtual care appointments via Department of Health and Wellness approved applications.
Yarmouth Hospital Foundation has partnered with Nova Scotia Health to reduce barriers to accessing virtual care through the Virtual Care @ Yarmouth Hub six-month pilot project, a free public service. This was announced in a press release last week — but what does it mean, in practical terms? It means that, thanks to the generosity of donors like you, we have been able to provide broadband internet-connected computers and mobile devices that have been set up in a safe room at Yarmouth Regional Hospital Learning Centre, for confidential virtual appointments from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday, supported by Lacey d’Entremont, the new virtual care technician. Lacey is trained on virtual care technology and processes and will help people who are not comfortable or struggle with using the technology.
“Everyone is very excited about this project because it is an opportunity to provide personal help to people who may have trouble or questions about accessing virtual care options,” said Tracey Watkins-Allen, site leader at Yarmouth Regional Hospital. “We also expect this to relieve some pressure on emergency departments by providing an option to people who have primary care needs but can’t otherwise access services.”
With the assistance of Lacey, the new Virtual Care @ Yarmouth service can assist patients with any digital health needs where patients have access barriers, such as:
- scheduling virtual appointments (i.e. Zoom)
- attending VirtualCareNS registration and appointments
- accessing mental health and addictions apps
- accessing patient portals
in a safe, secure space.
Yarmouth Hospital Foundation managing director, Mary Surette, said: “In response to the increased urgent need of ways to access primary health care, we are only too pleased to be a partner in the Virtual Care @ Yarmouth Hub project. Helping those in our community who experience challenges or have limited access to technology to use virtual care is important. Because of our donors, this is one way that we can assist in closing that access to health care gap.”
Everyone on the Need a Family Practice Registry is eligible to sign up for and use VirtualCareNS to access a family doctor or nurse practitioner online. Yarmouth area residents can book space and the technology for virtual appointments at Yarmouth Regional Hospital by: