The First Nations Telehealth Expansion Project (FN TEP) is an initiative of the FNHA to improve community access to health and wellness services by using telehealth to connect with service providers located elsewhere in the province. Telehealth is the use of communication technologies, such as videoconferencing, to deliver health, wellness and educational services from a distance.
A recent addition to the FN TEP is our Telehealth Coordinator, Esther Tong. She previously worked as an environmental health officer in northern BC and joined the team after completing her graduate studies in Health Promotion. She is currently involved in site visits, training users of telehealth equipment and responding to questions about the project. Within the team she has covered the most distance within the shortest amount of time – over 15,000 km in 4 months! All communities hold very valuable knowledge that will inform the project planning work and this role allows the team to generate discussion around how telehealth fits in with local community health and wellness priorities. The project's momentum has been steadily increasing, so please watch out for more regular updates in the future.
Our biggest news is that telehealth is now 'live' in 10 communities
Over the past few months the team has been busy completing site visits, installing telehealth equipment and providing training at several sites across BC. These new sites continue to be supported by the FN TEP team members based in Vancouver and Prince George.
Please note the NEW phone number and e-mail for videoconferencing equipment support: 1-844-364-7878 and email@example.com.
Top: Landing in Kwadacha then driving equipment over to Tsay Keh.
Bottom, Left: Nighttime installation of the satellite internet connection at the Tsay Keh Learning Centre.
Bottom, Right: Foggy weather delays the flight from the Northern Thunderbird Air terminal in Prince George.
Above: A test call between the FNHA Prince George office and the Kwadacha Adult Education Room.
Left to right: Nicole Cross (Regional Director, Northern), Angela LeFebvre (Native Education College) and Renata Meconse (Regional Health Liaison, North).
Inset, Left to right: Stephen (eHealth Support Analyst); Mike (IT Lead), Esther (Telehealth Coordinator) and Eileen Ruth (Kwadacha Health Director). Photo by Megan Hunt, eHealth Director
The following week included a trip to the Smithers area to visit the Gitanmaax and Kispiox Health Centres. The weather was chilly (-18C!) but the sun was out and the roads were clear. Many community health centre staff were again attending the FNHA Nursing Forum so this meant training included test calls to the demo unit at the forum.
Above: Gitanmaax Health Centre, (L-R) Kathleen (Receptionist/Travel Clerk), Esther (Telehealth Coordinator) and Stephen (eHealth Support Analyst).Photo by Sean Taylor (Business Analyst).
Above: Example of boardroom style telehealth equipment used for educational sessions (Kispiox).
Above: Deirdre Phillips (FN TEP Senior Project Coordinator) and Jean Allbeury (eHealth Planner) demonstrating the telehealth equipment at the nursing forum.
In the New Year, the FN TEP team will be focusing their efforts on introducing, or enhancing, clinical telehealth services to 33 communities across the province. This work will include installing new clinical telehealth carts, which will have digital medical peripherals such as general exam cameras and ear, nose, throat scopes attached, as well as providing training to community health centre staff that will be using the equipment. Communities that have clinical telehealth capabilities will be able to offer their clients the choice to attend certain medical appointments remotely (such as with cardiologists, nephrologists and psychiatrists) by using the new telehealth equipment, rather than traveling.
Left: Clinical telehealth cart.
While the current focus is on communities in Wave 1 of the project (participating in site visits, completing readiness and needs assessments, ordering and deliver equipment and providing training) there will be opportunities in the near future for additional communities to express their interest in joining FN TEP in the New Year. Upon completion of the project, telehealth services will be extended to additional First Nations communities where there is interest and where it is feasible.
On behalf of the whole FN TEP team thank you to all our partners and communities who have supported our work in 2014. We look forward to sharing more stories in the coming year!
For more information, please look for periodic updates on the project's website http://www.fnha.ca/what-we-do/ehealth/telehealth, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-693-6500 in the Lower Mainland OR 1-866-913-0033 (toll free).