Scarborough Health Network (SHN) appreciates the challenges our patients are facing, given the recent restrictions that hospitals and other health care providers have needed to put in place as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These necessary steps are being taken to protect patients and health care workers alike.

At SHN, we are turning to virtual care for some of our programs so patients can still receive services while staying at home. Here are some highlights of virtual care initiatives happening across our health network.

Virtual consultations for low-acuity long term care residents

Dr. Jemy Joseph getting ready for a consultation with a long-term care resident via OTN

Emergency physician Dr. Jemy Joseph gets ready for a consultation with a long-term care resident via OTN.

In an effort to protect the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions, SHN is now partnering with long-term care (LTC) facilities to provide their residents virtual consultations with emergency department physicians. This is being offered as an alternative to residents coming to the emergency department for low acuity or less severe issues. It helps to reduce the likelihood of these residents contracting COVID-19 or another infectious disease while in hospital, as well as reduce the volume of non-essential ED visits.

Conditions that can be assessed for LTC residents using virtual care include:

  • Fever
  • Falls
  • Pneumonia
  • COPD exacerbation
  • Heart failure
  • Infected wounds
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Not eating/drinking


Weekly calls and online education for Regional Cardiovascular Rehab patients

For patients in SHN’s Regional Cardiovascular Rehab program, they are used to attending weekly exercise and education classes at any of 16 sites at hospital, community and recreational centres from Scarborough, to Durham, to Kiwartha Lakes. Now with face-to-face classes postponed, patients are receiving services through phone calls and online education.

Engaging with cardiac rehab students through online education  

Cardiovascular rehab patients get engaged through virtual and online education.

Exercise therapists from the regional program are individually contacting patients via email, phone, or videoconferencing to review their weekly exercise program and any health concerns, and set weekly goals relating to their cardiovascular health. The team also includes a dietitian, smoking cessation specialist, and pharmacists, who are also offering individual consults and group education to patients through Ontario Telehealth Network (OTN). Additionally, patients are able to access videos and resources for their weekly classes online through the program’s website ” check out this week’s video on the Mediterranean diet.


Virtual prenatal classes for expecting parents

Expecting moms and dads who will be having their baby at SHN are now invited to join virtual prenatal classes. They learn about the same information, skills, and resources to be prepared for childbirth and the first few weeks of parenthood ” but now all from their computer or mobile device.

Labour and delivery nurse Christine Kurt explains what she will discuss for a prenatal class with an expecting parent.

Classes are led by experienced nurses through their laptops and videoconferencing platforms, bringing groups together for classes on: stages of labour and what to expect, coping strategies and breathing techniques, when to come to the hospital and what to bring, role of the support person, breastfeeding information, and more.