TeleHealth expands access to health-care options

Mount Waddington Health Network coordinator Barb Park extols virtues of program for remote communities.

An ideal tool for eliminating barriers to health care caused by distance is TeleHealth. It is well under way on the North Island.

TeleHealth Analyst Mya Aylott says there has been a 458 per cent increase in use of TeleHealth in Mount Waddington Region since its introduction, from 59 patients in 2011-12, to 270 in 2013-14.

Dr. David Whittaker, family physician in Port McNeill, says, “The excitement around TeleHealth revolves around access to care. We will be able to provide medical access to a much larger proportion of our population more often. We are currently providing GP services to Sointula. Once other sites are online, we would hope to expand these services.”

According to Dr. Charmaine Enns, Medical Health Officer, “TeleHealth lets Mount Waddington residents have a face-to-face appointment with their specialist providers without having to go far from home. This has many benefits for the patient, including providing consistent care and follow up, decreasing the chances of a hospital admission and reducing travel time and costs with a specialists visit down-Island.”

Reduced wait times for services are another benefit. TeleMental Health services in the Mount Waddington region are resulting in wait times of 4-6 weeks instead of 6-9 months for non-urgent psychiatry, says Shane Thomas, Practice Lead.

Dr. Marilyn Malone, Specialist Geriatrician, is using the same team approach in delivering TeleGeriatric services through a Nanaimo satellite office. She is able to assess gait and balance, as well as issues related to cognition and physical health. TeleHealth geriatric services will be available on the North Island soon. Malone’s colleague, geriatrician Dr. Deviani Maher, who has outreach experience working in Bella Bella, will make her first visit to the North Island in October to do initial assessments and get to know the local teams.

Dr. Malone feels that this approach can help even out these services regionally. “There is a huge disparity in services in rural and remote areas. Island Health has no geriatricians in Nanaimo and only one in Port Alberni. The rest are on southern Vancouver Island.”

Collaboration is key, Dr. Malone said. Dr. Whittaker agrees; “What we are finding with our pilot project in Sointula is an added benefit. It is forcing us to work collaboratively with the wonderful RN. Collaborative work with allied health professionals is the way forward in rural medicine and TeleHealth has given us a great avenue to do just that.”

The Nov. 5 Health Network Forum at the Civic Centre in Port Hardy will be an opportunity to meet some of the people involved in TeleHealth and learn more. The focus of the forum will be access to services, including regional service delivery models, transportation initiatives and profiling local services from birthing through to seniors’ care. The provincial Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, will be the keynote speaker.

For more information on TeleHealth, visit www.viha.ca/TeleHealth or contact me (info below).

Barb Park is coordinator of the Mount Waddington Health Network, which advocates for North Islanders across a spectrum of health and social services issues. info@mountwaddingtonhealthnetwork.com or 250-230-1238.

 

Just Posted

Ma Murrays 2021 virtual ceremony screenshot
North Island Gazette wins big at 2021 Ma Murray Newspaper Awards

Zoe Ducklow and Bill McQuarrie both won gold at the online ceremony

Port Hardy council has agreed to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children being found on the grounds of a former residential school. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Council votes to cancel Canada Day celebrations in wake of mass grave sites being found

Coun. Treena Smith made the motion for the chamber to not host Canada Day celebrations this year

Port Hardy Fire Rescue responded to an early morning fire around 3:50 a.m. on Sunday, June 13. Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street. Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP at 250-949-6335. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue photo)
Firefighters respond to early morning fire near visitor centre in Port Hardy

Two porta-potties were on fire at the Visitor’s Centre on Hastings Street

North Island MLA Michele Babchuk. Photo contributed
COMMENTARY: MLA Michele Babchuk talks the future of forestry

‘These forests are important to every single one of us, myself included’

Dr. Prean Armogam hands over a cheque for $10,000 to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society president Rosaline Glynn. The money will be going towards a new roof for the Port Hardy seniors centre. This is the second donation Dr. Armogam has made to the society, giving them $5,000 a little over a year ago. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Doctor donates $10k to Hardy Bay Senior Citizens Society for new roof

This was the second donation Armogam has given to the society

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

CVSAR search the Puntledge River following a report of an abandoned kayak. Photo, CVSAR Facebook page
Comox Valley Search and Rescue spends four hours searching for no one

Overturned kayak a reminder for public to contact officials if they have to abandon a watercraft

Most Read