It runs just like a hospital and it cares for patients just like a hospital, but it won’t appear on any Google map searches.
That’s because Northern Sydney Local Health District’s Virtual Hospital isn’t caring for patients in a building, but treating around 350 patients in their homes.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, renal and general physician Dr Paul Collett has been overseeing the Virtual Hospital as clinical medical director, treating members of the community who are COVID-19 positive in their homes, unless they require a transfer to hospital.
Located in a building on the Royal North Shore Hospital campus, the team of doctors and nurses triage and treat the patients via telephone or videoconference. Patients can also phone into a call centre and speak to a registered nurse, if they have concerns about worsening symptoms or are anxious.
Each day, the team calls the patients, who are categorised into high, medium and low risk – and discuss their symptoms and welfare needs.
Paul said if a patient deteriorates, an ambulance is called and they are taken to hospital.
“We call each day; it is a medical check but it’s also a welfare check to see if they are managing at home, are they still able to isolate, do they have food, how are the others in their household,” he said.