Community Spotlight: Virtual Care In Renfrew County During Covid-19
When communities realized the threat of COVID-19, plans were quickly established in Renfrew County that would strengthen access to primary care for all residents while offering a virtual system that would protect 9-1-1 resources and emergency departments.
With the help of 211’s established phone system, the Renfrew County Virtual Triage and Assessment Centre (RC VTAC) was developed – a collaboration between Renfrew County Primary Care teams, the County of Renfrew Paramedic Service, Renfrew County Hospitals, and the Renfrew County and District Health Unit.
The RC VTAC is a virtual solution that allows physicians, nurse practitioners and/or community paramedics to work collaboratively to address and manage health concerns.
This may include:
- Phone appointments
- Video appointments
- In-home assessment and diagnostic testing undertaken by community paramedics
- Remote monitoring and escalation to a designated team of physicians and allied health professionals for the management of patients with COVID-19 as necessary
- Referral to other services including mental health support within the community through 211
“Since the inception of RC VTAC we’ve noticed a significant change in the way people are using 9-1-1 as well as emergency departments,” said Mike Nolan, Chief of the County of Renfrew Paramedic Service. “We know that many of the people calling RC VTAC would have, in the past, called 9-1-1 or presented themselves to the emergency department as it was their only choice. Standing up this service has given people an alternative.”
The virtual assessment centre allows people to be triaged by primary care providers
over the phone. If the primary care providers are concerned about an individual, a Community Paramedic will go to their home, do a follow-up assessment, initiate treatment, and in some cases leave behind remote monitoring so they can be managed virtually 24/7.
In just one month, RC VTAC has served more than 2,500 residents in Renfrew County.
RC VTAC is delivering the right care at the right time while avoiding unnecessary use of 911 resources and emergency departments.
211 continues to connect Renfrew County residents with other critical social services through this pandemic including food access, mental health supports, and financial assistance programs.
- The emergency department is avoided in approximately 74% of RC VTAC calls
- About 20% of calls result in an in-home assessment by a community paramedic
- Out of these visits, about 80% of people meet the testing criteria and are swabbed for COVID-19