OTTAWA -- There is a new virtual clinic to meet the growing demand for substance use services in Eastern Ontario.

The Royal Ottawa has launched a “digital front door,” that connects individuals seeking support for substance use with care, called The Royal’s Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinic.

You can access the service through a computer, a tablet or a smart phone during clinic hours here.

“They’ll be able to first speak with one of our triage clinicians to discuss what they’re looking for and what kind of help they might need,” explains Dr. Melanie Willows,  addiction medicine physician, clinical director with the substance use and concurrent disorders program at The Royal.

You will then be connected to other members of the team by video.

“It might be a nurse, it might be an addiction counsellor, a social worker, an addiction medicine physician, a nurse practitioner; and, we can connect them with all of those individuals right at that time,” says Dr. Willows.

RAAM existed before the pandemic, as a “low-barrier walk-in clinic that patients can attend to get help for their substance use, without an appointment or formal referral,” says Dr. Willows.    

According to a press release from the Royal, the virtual clinic is a result of COVID-19 restrictions that were put in place in March 2020.

“The processes we put in place due to COVID created delays and barriers to access, which is not ideal when someone is ready do to something about their substance use,” says Dr. Willows, “We knew we had to find a solution.”