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Lakeridge Oshawa opens Virtual Ward

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa residents who may have COVID-19, or do have it, are now able to receive care at home through Lakeridge Health’s Virtual Ward app.

Patients who have been discharged can download the app on their mobile device. The app builds on established Ontario Telemedecine Network services, and is a collaborative effort between the Central East LHIN, Community Care Support Services, and Lakeridge Health.

The app provides patients with a digital and remote monitoring option, and enables them to maintain close contact with registered nurses and physicians at the hospital.

“Where it started, is they were already starting to pilot this home telehealth strategy for people with congested heart failure or [cryptogenic organizing pneumonia],” explains Lakeridge Health Chief of Staff Tony Stone. “Then, when COVID came out, what we did is we decided to leverage what they were already starting with that pilot and turn it into a strategy for folks with COVID.”

Patients referred to the app will receive a text or an email with instructions on how to download it.

The patients will receive phone alerts twice-a-day reminding them to monitor their symptoms.

A care coordinator from the Central East LHIN Home and Community Care Support Services will review patients’ feedback about their symptoms and will arrange a virtual video or consult with a Lakeridge Health physician if necessary.

Stone explains the goal of the app is to make sure patients with COVID-19, whether they have mild or major symptoms, have constant care.

“In essence, what’s happening is people who are not sick enough to have to come to the hospital, but are sick enough to need supervision or observation, are doing it through this Virtual Ward,” says Stone, adding while they would have had meetings with the patients before, they can now be taken care of at home.

“If any of them get too sick, of course we would bring them into the hospital,” says Stone.

In order to make sure the app is accessible to all patients who might benefit, those who don’t have access to the app will be called twice daily by a nurse to check their symptoms.

The Virtual Ward is available seven days a week between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.

“For all of the bad things that this pandemic has wrought, what it’s doing is bringing a revolution to virtual care, and its impact on the healthcare industry,” says Stone. “So I could see lots of these things changing practice and changing the way healthcare delivery works into the future.”