January 28, 2021

Virtual ED patients now triaged in their own language

Northern Health’s Virtual Emergency Department (ED) now offers interpreting services for patients who are more comfortable speaking to our medical staff in their own language.

Dr Loren Sher, Emergency Physician, said this is something the team has always planned for, and is happy to announce that interpreting services are now available for our virtual patients, every day.

“We have just launched the interpreting services and have so far seen numerous patients who needed to get an interpreter involved. The service is available through Northern Health’s interpreting team and for all languages,” she said.

Our first patient to use our interpreting services while being triaged virtually was Shiksha, who was previously at Northern Hospital and heard about the Virtual Emergency Department from our staff.

“The staff told me this is a new system and that I can see a doctor from home. My English understanding is not too bad, but I didn’t understand well during the consultation, so I asked for a Hindi interpreter and had no issues in understanding afterwards,” she said.

Shiksha, an Epping local, was concerned about a swollen finger and her GP advised her to come to Northern Hospital’s ED.

“My virtual experience was good, as I didn’t have to wait long to be seen and I know the ED is usually very busy. Once the interpreter joined, the communication between the medical staff and myself became very fluid and I am very happy with how it all went,” she said.

Since launching in October, our Australian-first Virtual ED has seen over 1,000 patients, and in the future plans to additionally offer AUSLAN capabilities.

“There has been a wide variety of presentations in the last four months. We see a lot of early pregnancy concerns, back pain, abdominal pain and mild injuries. We have also seen a variety of ages, with the oldest patient being 92 years old,” Loren added.

Our emergency staff are enjoying their virtual shifts and providing one-on-one consultation with patients and families without the noise and distraction of a busy Emergency Department.

“Children are more relaxed at home, so it is much easier and quicker to get an impression of how they are. It also allows busy families to access emergency care without having to bundle all the kids into the car. It’s particularly great when we can manage the patients completely virtually and spare them the inconvenience of having to drive in. I think the community really appreciate the convenience factor,” Loren added.

Convenience is one of the key benefits for Shiksha too, who has already started spreading the word and sharing her story.

“I am already recommending the Virtual ED to my friends, and telling them how helpful it is. Some people don’t know how to drive, so the Virtual ED can be really beneficial for them. I hope that, with my feedback, people from non-English speaking backgrounds wouldn’t hesitate to use the Virtual ED and the language services. I would like to thank Navneet Gill (interpreter) because she helped me explain my problem very well and we achieved a good result,” Shiksha added.

“As an interpreter, I felt more comfortable interpreting through video rather than phone because it helps us understand the situation better. We are able to provide more effective and timely response to short notice interpreting requests, as it does not require us to travel, making us more productive because we can interpret from different campuses of Northern Health. All this makes us feel appreciated caring for the team and the patients,” Navneet added.

Featured image: Dr Loren Sher speaking with patient Shiksha (on the screen, right), and interpreter Navneet (on the screen, lower left).