ECMC Launches ‘Virtual ER’


Since the pandemic started, people have turned to technology to connect with family and friends, do business and even get groceries. Now, the Erie County Medical Center is using it for emergencies.

Dr. David Ellis has been working in telemedicine for many years. He’s now part of the team who launched a ‘virtual emergency room’ at ECMC.

“In emergency medicine, the goal is to get to somebody – get to them quick – identify their problems and take care of them,” Ellis explained. “The technology has been incredibly effective in doing that and reaching out to families who call on our ECMC virtual visits.”

This is for people dealing with different illnesses such as the flu, sinus infections or even suspected COVID-19.

Patients can schedule a visit through the hospitals website and from there, they’ll be assessed and, if needed, asked to come in for additional treatment.

“We can do the full gamut of care that we normally do in the emergency department,” Ellis said. “Many times – a good proportion of the time – we’re able to take care of the problem right there. We can talk to the patient, make sure they have what they need.”

This comes during a time where many people have turned to a screen to communicate. Ellis said this made the switch to virtual ER visits that much easier.

This system has been live for the past week at ECMC, and it’s not just something we’ll see being used temporarily. Ellis said he expects this to be used even after this pandemic is over.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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