CHEO Discontinues Virtual ER Service As In-Person Demand Increases – Ottawa | The Canadian News

Ottawa Children’s Hospital suspends the first virtual emergency department services of its kind to return resources to in-person care.

CHEO said in an announcement Wednesday that the hiatus will last at least 90 days.

“This suspension allows CHEO to reassign much-needed virtual care staff to provide in-person support to children and families who come to our emergency department,” the Eastern Ontario Children’s Hospital said in a statement.

CHEO said it has seen an “extraordinary demand” for urgent care in person since the summer months.

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In October, the CHEO emergency room treated more than 7,100 children and youth in person, up 68 percent year-over-year. That’s also higher than the typical month in “peak viral season,” which runs from December to April, the hospital said.

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CHEO launched its virtual emergency department in May 2020 in the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was believed to be the first such offering in Canada.

At the time, CHEO CEO Alex Munter said the hospital was experiencing a significant decrease in emergency room visits attributed to general malaise around in-person care during the pandemic.

The hospital said it remains “committed to offering virtual care options” in the future, with expectations that remote emergency room visits will resume.

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