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New Telehealth link proves its worth

Kim Stewart Nov 11
Northland District Health Board
New Telehealth link proves its worth

A new Telehealth link was used for the first time at the Bay of Islands Hospital Accident & Medical Department to assist in the care of a severely unwell one yea r old.

The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) based at Whangarei Hospital provides critical care services for regional hospitals throughout Northland.

Five years ago The NDHB installed a mobile Telehealth device called NEMO to help provide the best clinical advice to colleagues in Kaitaia Hospital and to determine the most appropriate way of transferring patients to Whangarei or Auckland.

In order to link up all our referring centres the NDHB recently installed a new Telehealth link at Bay of Islands Hospital.

The NDHB says the one-year-old had presented with complications from bronchitis to a GP practice in Kaikohe which is a 20-minute ambulance ride away from Bay of Islands Hospital and more than 60 minutes from Whangarei.

The decision was made to stop at Bay of Islands Hospital so that the patient could be assessed by the ICU team in Whangarei via the Telehealth link.

The Bay of Islands Hospital clinical team, the Kaikohe who had travelled with the patient, the Whangarei Intensive Care specialist team, paediatrician and clinical flight team were all present for the assessment.

“Under normal circumstances helicopter retrieval with the ICU team would have been instigated,” said Michael Kalkoff, Northland DHB consultant anaesthetist.

“Instead the Telehealth link was set up and the child was assessed and treated by the whole team.”

Once the child’s condition was stabilised it was mutually decided that they could be safely transferred via ambulance to Whangarei Hospital.

The Telehealth link meant that the Helicopter could be stood down, saving money and keeping it available for other calls.

Telehealth facilities ease the communication between different healthcare providers and provide improved care for acutely ill rural patients.

“It was amazing to have the IT facility and back up from the ICU team here in the Mid-North,” said Broadway Health GP Dr Justine Woodcock.

“It felt very reassuring and really added to the patients care and a positive outcome.”

The Zoom link to Bay of Islands Hospital is a predecessor to a Mobile Clinical Cart which is currently being developed by the Northland District Health Board’s Telehealth and Mobility team in collaboration with Zoom, the University of Queensland and healthAlliance.

The Mobile Clinical Cart will be ready for the new Accident & Medical Department opening in September.

The funding of equipment for the new Telehealth links for the Bay of Islands Hospital has been made possible by a generous grant from the Hugo Charitable Trust.

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