Renfrew County’s Warden is lobbying for Ontario to keep funding a virtual health clinic that’s saving people from visiting overwhelmed hospitals.
Peter Emon says the Renfrew County Virtual Triage Assessment Centre is a stellar example of how to ensure rural residents can conveniently access health services, with little costs to the province.
The Centre, also known as VTAC, allows residents to connect with physicians and paramedics by phone to 1-844-727-6404. They can then provide services over the phone or through virtual meetings.
It’s been incredibly well used, Emon says.
“We’ve had 5,000 calls to VTAC every month and about 2,250 virtual physician assessments per month,” he says. “ We think this takes away about 1,000 emergency department visits in the month and 911 calls as well. Since March of 2020, we’ve had 64,000 virtual assessments with family physicians and 5,500 in-home community paramedic assessments.”
Emon says he spoke about it to Doug Ford when he visited Pembroke earlier this month and the Premier seemed impressed. The Warden says he’s hoping the province will continue to fund it when it enters a new fiscal year in April.
Emon says this type of the service is the way to go now.
“We recognize that the traditional bricks and mortar delivery of medicine and personal health is not sustainable and it’s not going to continue,” he says. “Right now there’s so many people who work different hours and have comfort with technology, that it makes sense to reduce the stress on the health care system.”
Emon says he’ll continue to lobby the province for funding, so it can continue. He says, the service extends beyond the Renfrew County, as some Hastings County residents are accessing it.