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Children’s Hospital in London, Ont., launches virtual emergency clinic

Parents seeking a virtual visit can call 519-685-8735 between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. and will be connected with clerical staff who will help them register and send an email invitation to join a Cisco Webex meeting.
Parents seeking a virtual visit can call 519-685-8735 between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. and will be connected with clerical staff who will help them register and send an email invitation to join a Cisco Webex meeting. Matthew Trevithick/AM980

Families with ill children in London, Ont., are no longer required to meet face-to-face with a health-care professional for medical advice during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) announced Monday that it has launched a virtual emergency clinic for families who are concerned their child may require emergency care.

Starting Monday, May 11, parents and children will have the option to speak to a pediatric emergency room physician by video to discuss the child’s condition.

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“We understand that people are very protective of their children, and people are delaying bringing their kids into the (emergency department) because of that fear,” said Dr. Rod Lim, medical director of the pediatric emergency department at Children’s Hospital, on Monday on 980 CFPL’s Craig Needles Show.

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“So we decided to open a clinic that would allow people to call directly into a virtual waiting room where a pediatric emergency doctor could talk to them and give them some advice as to whether it’s a good idea for them to come into the emergency department, or whether seeing an alternate care provider would be best for them.”

Lim says this service cannot replace the emergency department and urges parents to bring their child directly to the department or call 911 if the child is in urgent medical distress.

Lim explains the emergency department has seen a decrease in the number of patients coming in, likely due to fears over COVID-19.

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“We know our (patients) are well over to half of what we expect, so patients are out there,” Lim said.

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According to a statement released by LHSC, the virtual clinic operates seven days a week between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Parents seeking a virtual visit can call 519-685-8735 between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. and will be connected with clerical staff, who will help them register and send an email invitation to join a Cisco Webex meeting.

The invitation includes instructions to download the software on their smartphone or laptop and what to expect during their appointment.

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Parents and patients who join the Webex meeting will be placed in a private virtual waiting room. A physician will then consult with them on a first come, first served basis.

Parents are advised to do the meeting in a quiet room with good lighting so the physician can clearly see and hear the child.

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“We know people are really nervous, especially in the evenings when they can’t reach anybody,” said Lim.

“So we want to make sure we’re reaching out to people and making it as easy as possible for people to get good advice.”