Born out of the COVID-19 pandemic, a temporary arrangement between EllisDon and medical centre Cleveland Clinic Canada has transitioned into a long-term partnership.
As part of its overall benefit package, the construction company now provides its approximately 3,000 employees with free access to Cleveland’s Express Care Online, an express healthcare service for non-emergency medical issues such as coughs, colds, or ear infections. It is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days week.
First time use requires downloading an application to a smartphone, tablet or computer and then plugging in a dedicated code number which identifies the user as an EllisDon employee or family member, says the company’s senior vice-president of People & Culture, Paul Trudel.
Once that task is completed, patients have speedy access to nurse practitioners who diagnose their condition and make recommendations, he says.
“They don’t have to leave their homes/offices/or sites or wait for an appointment.”
For onsite injuries or ailments an employee would first contact the site safety supervisor, he says.
As the code is embedded, it doesn’t have to be plugged in for subsequent appointments. Users are prompted to answer preliminary questions about their condition and what part of Canada they live in. A telephone screening process is then conducted by Cleveland to ensure the patient is, in fact, an EllisDon employee. Periodic monitoring will be conducted to avoid abuse of the code, he says.
Not unlike a traditional medical clinic, the virtual healthcare professionals deal with a number of patients and may be conducting an assessment when the service is accessed.
A colour-identification system indicates the waiting times and, if that period is lengthy one, the user can simply scroll to another clinician, says Trudel.
A major feature is on screen biographies and photographs of the clinicians, which may provide a level of comfort to women who would rather be evaluated by a female health professional, he says.
For a number of years EllisDon had provided emergency care and executive health coverage through Cleveland Canada Clinic, which is part of the global non-profit academic medical centre.
But then COVID-19 struck and EllisDon chose to greatly expand that coverage by taking advantage of limited-time free service Cleveland was offering to counter the effects of the pandemic, says Trudel.
“We made this service available for, not only COVID related concerns, but for any non-emergency healthcare needs. This was also done in part to take off some of the strains on our hospitals and local healthcare providers. We just thought it was the right thing to do.”
After a trial evaluation of Express Care Online over the spring and summer, which generated a couple of hundred favourable responses from employees, EllisDon signed a long-time delivery agreement with Cleveland in September.
“Without COVID, we probably would have done this (the agreement) anyways. With COVID, it was a no-brainer.”
Established in Canada in 2006, it has two physical locations in Toronto and a nationwide virtual network of physicians, nurses, and the nurse practitioners — who are licensed by the provinces they live and work in.