Virtual Hospitals Answer 24/7 Fears for Seniors

When older adults leave hospital, a lot of unanswered questions exist. Fears about treatments and their effectiveness are common. Outpatients desire 24/7 access to the health care center, but, historically, this need goes unanswered because of distance.

The Virtual Ward at Health Sciences North in Sudbury, Ontario, offers seniors and their caregivers 24-hour telephone access to a multidisciplinary care team of physicians, RNs and other health-care professionals.

The launch of the virtual health care center will be in the fall of 2012. Joe Pilon, senior vice-president of Health Sciences North told “That's the comfort that not only the patients want but the families want.”

He continued: “If my mom is worried, and if I'm worried about my mom, I can talk to someone. That's where the comfort is. You may feel a little nervous about your mom or your dad going home. But you'll know when they're discharged, you'll have 24/7 access.”

Dr. Denis Roy, president and CEO of Health Sciences North, said in a press release: “People, especially seniors, want to be in their homes, in an environment where they feel most comfortable. By using technology and new models of delivering care, we can provide a safe level of care in someone's home and improve their quality of life by giving them a greater independence.”

The Sudbury virtual centre is modeled on existing facilities in England and the USA. Some have been piloted in Toronto, Ontario.

The virtual model is in place in many assisted living and continuing care retirement residences to help protect residents.