Health Beat: A virtual care option for Islanders and visitors

August 3, 2023

Health Beat: A virtual care option for Islanders and visitors

With significantly more people on the Island during the summer, the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Emergency Department can feel the pinch, resulting in long wait times for patients with minor injuries or ailments.

That’s why Martha’s Vineyard Hospital is asking potential patients to consider Mass General Brigham’s new and convenient Virtual Urgent Care on Demand rather than going to the Emergency Department for certain illnesses that include symptoms such as cough, cold, ear/eye infections, rashes, muscle/back pain, and other minor injuries.

The Emergency Department has certainly been feeling the heat. Dr. Karen Casper, director of the hospital’s Emergency Department, said there have been more than 150 ED visits for tick-related complaints and 50 visits for contact with poison ivy since the start of summer.

An example of who would benefit from Virtual Urgent Care on Demand came from a recent Facebook post. The woman wrote that her guest’s 3-year-old daughter was not feeling well and might have an ear infection. The child’s mom did not want to take her to the hospital’s Emergency Department. Since there are no minute clinics or walk-in medical facilities that provide pediatric care on the Island, she was asking the group for ideas. All she could think of was bringing the child to Falmouth.

Granted, the Virtual Urgent Care on Demand service was just made available on Martha’s Vineyard so people may not know about it.

Here are some advantages for residents and visitors to Martha’s Vineyard:

  • Virtual Urgent Care services are available seven days a week, 365 days a year, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Wait times are typically less than 15 min.
  • Virtual Urgent Care costs significantly less than going to the ED.
  • Patients can access the digital platform from a laptop, smartphone or tablet.
  • Virtual Urgent Care is open to all patients ages 3 and up, even if they haven’t seen a Mass General Brigham provider before.
  • For MGB patients, information from these appointments will remain within the MGB patient portal, accessible to care teams at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.
  • Patients need to be in Massachusetts or New Hampshire at the time of the appointment, but don’t need to be residents of either state.

Dr. Casper offers these summer safety tips:

Poisonous plants

Avoid direct skin with poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak and other poisonous plants. The sap oil (urushiol) can cause an allergic reaction.

“If you do have contact, rinse skin as soon as possible with lots of water and a poison plant wash, dish washing soap, or detergent,” said Dr. Casper. “It is important to scrub under your nails with a brush. If you develop a worsening rash, you should reach out to a healthcare provider.”

If you have trouble breathing or severe swelling, call 911 or come to the Emergency Department.

Take the (jelly fish) sting out

Dr. Casper said the ED saw 31 jelly fish-related cases last year.

For decontamination, rinse with salt water or saline and remove nematocysts (stingers) with forceps or scrape off with a credit card.

For minor symptoms/painful rash discuss with a healthcare provider.

Call 911 for signs of anaphylaxis, including a severe itchy skin rash/hives, swollen eye, lips, hands or feet, swelling of the mouth, tongue, or throat or trouble breathing or swallowing.

Wear a helmet

Massachusetts law requires any person 16 years old or younger riding a bicycle to wear a helmet. MVH urges you do so. It could prevent severe injury and even save your life!

If you need emergency care, don’t hesitate to come to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Emergency Department. For more information about the Mass General Brigham program, visit Virtual Urgent Care | Mass General Brigham.

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