ER physician’s project uses donated cellphones to connect vulnerable with ongoing medical care – CBC

Patients needing followup care but who lack stable housing can now avoid ER visits

Mar 10, 2023

For years, Dr. Andrea Somers has seen patients come to the hospital emergency department because they weren’t able to attend followup appointments.

She remembers one man who came to the ER with his wrist in a cast “that was not supportive or doing anything” and in a lot of pain.

When she asked why he didn’t follow up with a doctor, he said his housing situation changed, he moved and he didn’t have a cellphone. So he came to the ER for help.

“If you don’t have a phone and you don’t have stable housing where someone can contact you or leave a message, you’re stuck. So what do you do? You go back to the social safety net, which is the emergency department, and you seek help there,” said Somers, who is an emergency physician at Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN).

Patients who return to the nearest emergency department because they’re unable to get the followup care they need is not a new phenomenon.

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