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November 2021

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Amanda Thornton and Loren Sher.

Virtual ED partners with ambos

Northern Health’s virtual emergency department has partnered with Ambulance Victoria to enable paramedics to use the service from a patient’s home and receive emergency medical advice and care.

Ambulance Victoria acting regional improvement lead Amanda Thornton said this partnership would help connect patients with the services that best met their health needs.

‘Our aim is to minimise patients’ and paramedics’ exposure to COVID-19 by spending less time at the hospital and keeping care at home or closer to home.

‘We are essentially going to bring the emergency department to their home.’

The new partnership means that once paramedics arrive on scene, they can determine if the patient would be suitable for virtual emergency and, once confirmed, a dedicated pathway would be set up.

The virtual ED and Ambulance Victoria partnership will cover the north-eastern hospital catchment area.

‘The paramedics are really excited to engage with Northern Hospital Epping and the ED physicians,’ Ms Thornton said.

‘To be able to use the technology to support our work is a great change that we are bringing to Ambulance Victoria and will have a greater impact on the wider community, making us more available to more cases.’

Northern Health emergency physician Loren Sher said the team was very excited to launch this collaboration.

‘Amanda and I have been working on this for a while, as we see the potential to really work as a team to provide care for patients in the community.

‘The virtual ED’s aim has always been for patients to have access to specialist healthcare from home.

‘This way, we can provide co-ordinated help, while making sure patients don’t have to sit and wait in busy ED waiting rooms,’ Dr Sher said.

Currently, Northern Health’s virtual ED sees close to 90 patients a day, showing a significant increase since the recent wave of COVID-19.

‘We are rapidly onboarding new doctors to meet that need and collaborating with GPs and specialist ED physicians, so that we can continue to provide excellent healthcare,’ Dr Sher said.

For Northern Health, this is another step towards bringing care to patients, keeping them well at home and making sure they can readily access emergency care.