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 year old.
The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) based at Whangarei Hospital provides critical care services for regional hospitals throughout Northland.
Five years ago we 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 we recently installed a new Telehealth link at Bay of Islands Hospital.
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 a Telehealth link.
The Bay of Islands Hospital clinical team, the GP from 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/Intensivst.
“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,” offered 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 DHB Telehealth and Mobility team in collaboration with Zoom, the University of Queensland and healthAlliance.
It takes the learnings from NEMO and the new Zoom link to make a Mobile Clinical Cart which will be able to be used throughout the new Accident & Medical Department and hospital wards.
The funding of equipment for the new Telehealth links for Bay of Islands Hospital has been made possible by a grant from the Hugo Charitable Trust.
The Mobile Clinical Cart will be ready for the new Accident & Medical Department and 20-bed ward that is opening in September.