Photo By: National Cancer Institute from Unsplash

Residents of the Niagara Region who are in need of urgent care but lack access to a primary care physician can now book a virtual appointment with a Niagara Health practitioner.

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, London Health Sciences Centre, and Hamilton Health Sciences Centre first collaborated in February 2021 to provide virtual urgent care services through Urgent Care Ontario. They work together to provide urgent online medical treatment to adults, children, and long-term care residents in their respective regions.

With the addition of Niagara Health to the collaboration, these services are now going to be offered all throughout the Niagara Region.

This program is designed for those who do not already have a primary care physician or who are unable to book an appointment with their primary care physician and have an urgent medical condition or health concern that is not life threatening.

Appointments are offered on a first-come, first-served basis Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. = 4:30 p.m., while your family doctor should be the primary point of contact for treatment whenever available. Individuals in critical condition should use 9-1-1 instead of driving themselves to the hospital. Individuals who are experiencing a medical emergency or whose symptoms are deteriorating while waiting for a virtual appointment should go to their local emergency room or urgent care centre in person.

The purpose of the service is to provide patients with a quick and safe way to seek care for nausea, infections, mild COVID-19 symptoms, and other minor injuries. Patients are able to schedule an appointment the same day, and healthcare practitioners who are assigned to them will diagnose, propose treatment, issue prescriptions, and coordinate referrals to specialists and other community healthcare providers in the region over secure video.

This service offers a new healthcare alternative in Niagara that works in tandem with Niagara Health’s in-person urgent care. Patients who have one, should contact their primary care physician if they believe they require a physical examination. Residents who utilise the service and require a physical examination may be directed to the nearest emergency department where they will be able to continue their visit without having to go through the diagnostic process again.

Having a virtual urgent care service serves to make navigating the healthcare system easier and more accessible for patients in Niagara. While anybody may use virtual care, it is especially advantageous for Niagara residents who may not have a primary care physician, since it allows patients to schedule a virtual urgent appointment on their phone, tablet, or computer. 

Residents in Niagara are encouraged to take advantage of the newly available services and may schedule an appointment on the Urgent Care Ontario website. Residents may also learn more about the service by visiting the website.