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Over 5,000 shelter residents embrace virtual healthcare in NYC

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NYC Health + Hospitals and the NYC Department of Social Services have revealed that over 5,000 individuals residing in shelters accessed telehealth services through the Virtual ExpressCare platform since January 2023.

This milestone underscores the city’s commitment to providing accessible healthcare solutions, particularly for vulnerable populations.

Virtual ExpressCare, operational round-the-clock, 365 days a year, offers patients the convenience of accessing healthcare without the constraints of time, transportation costs, or childcare needs. With an average wait time of less than five minutes and support in over 200 languages, the platform ensures prompt and confidential care for all New Yorkers.

Among the users, nearly half were uninsured, while another 5% benefited from NYC Care coverage, highlighting the critical role of financial accessibility in healthcare delivery. Spanish, English, and French emerged as the top languages spoken, emphasizing the platform’s dedication to serving NYC’s diverse communities, with Latino and Black patients comprising 70% of users.

Mayor Eric Adams emphasized the city’s commitment to healthcare accessibility, stating, “All New Yorkers have a right to healthcare.”

He commended the collaborative efforts of NYC Health + Hospitals and the Department of Social Services in facilitating thousands of shelter residents’ access to affordable and timely healthcare.

Erfan Karim, MPH, Executive Director of Virtual ExpressCare, expressed pride in the platform’s impact, noting its role in breaking down barriers to healthcare access. Molly Wasow Park, Commissioner of the Department of Social Services, highlighted the platform’s significance in addressing the healthcare needs of individuals experiencing homelessness, promoting better health outcomes and stability.

The surge in Virtual ExpressCare usage reflects its transformative impact, with usage tripling year over year. Since its inception in 2020, the platform has conducted approximately 90,000 virtual visits annually, playing a pivotal role in the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, it partnered with the New York State Department of Health to offer life-saving COVID-19 therapeutics through the state’s hotline.

Moreover, Virtual ExpressCare’s integration into the shelter system, facilitated by outreach initiatives and staff training, has made it an indispensable resource for shelter residents seeking medical care.

The platform’s affordability, with per visit fees as low as $0 for eligible individuals, ensures equitable access to healthcare services.

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