On-Call Physician Robot dispatched to remote Labrador
Nain, NL – People living in Nain, Newfoundland and Labrador, now have access to faster, more comprehensive health care. A Remote Presence Robotic System has been installed at the Nain Community Clinic, enabling those in the north coast community to receive medical care without having to travel elsewhere.The remote-controlled robot, affectionately referred to as “Rosie”, stands 65 inches tall and has a computer-screen head which serves as a physician’s eyes and ears. Its two-way audio and video capabilities enable individuals to be physically located in one location and virtually present in another at the same time.
“It’s the first of its kind in the Canadian North,” says Dr. Ivar Mendez, chairman of Halifax’s Brain Repair Centre. He’s also professor and head of Dalhousie Medical School’s and Capital Health’s Division of Neurosurgery. Dr. Mendez, in partnership with Health Canada, initiated the setup of the robot in the Nain clinic. “Though currently a feasibility project in Nain, this robotic technology has the potential to open the door to accessible, equitable patient care on a national level.”
Labrador-Grenfell Health partners with the Nunatsiavut Government’s Department of Health and Social Development in the provision of health care services in the area. The Nain Community Clinic provides primary health care to local residents, and a physician visits the clinic on a monthly basis.
“This robotic technology offers the people of Nain the comfort of an extra layer of medical care and support on a 24/7 basis,” says Dr. Michael Jong, vice-president of medical services, Labrador-Grenfell Health in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. “It’s especially valuable when there’s an emergency and when ice, snow and other treacherous weather conditions do not allow for safe passage to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, a one-and-a-half hour flight away.”
“The Government of Canada is proud to work with First Nations and Inuit communities, provinces and health-care partners to explore innovative ways of delivering health services to remote and isolated communities,” said Federal Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq. “This pilot project could make health care more accessible in areas where doctors are not readily available.”
Through a secure internet connection, the robot allows medical assessments and diagnoses to take place in real-time. Patient-specific medical data, such as ultrasound images, can be transmitted through the robot. Medical personnel can lead resuscitation, discuss treatment plans and interact with patients and the local health team – all from afar.
Capital Health’s robotic fleet currently includes five robots. Besides Nain, they’re located at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Science Centre, the IWK Health Centre, and the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.
For more information:
Joann Tusia, Brain Repair Centre, (709) 922-2190, www.brainrepair.ca
Bert Pomeroy, Nunatsiavut Government, (709) 922-2190, www.nunatsiavut.com
Alison Dower, Labrador-Grenfell Health, (709) 454-0128, www.lghealth.ca
Allison Gerrard, Dalhousie Medical School, (902) 494-1789, www.medicine.dal.ca
John Gillis, Capital Health, (902) 220-1419, www.cdha.nshealth.ca
Note: Photos available at: http://media.dal.ca
The Brain Repair Centre (BRC) is a multidisciplinary collaboration linking more than 100 world-class researchers and physicians specializing in groundbreaking treatments and technologies in the field of brain repair. They range from surgeons who replace tissue in the human brain to recover lost capability, to scientists in the field of imaging, stem cell neurobiology, pharmacology, psychiatry, ophthalmology, neurology and cognitive neuroscience. Brain Repair Centre research is dedicated to disorders such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis, and serious mental illness.
Dalhousie Medical School is home to some of Canada’s top students, doctors, and medical researchers. Serving the Maritimes, the medical school has teaching sites across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Dalhousie is committed to teaching highly competent, caring, and socially responsible physicians and researchers through high-quality academic programs and a diverse clinical and research-rich environment.
Capital Health Capital Health is Nova Scotia’s largest provider of health services. We operate hospitals, health centres and community-based programs throughout Halifax Regional Municipality and the western part of Hants County. We are 11,000 employees, physicians, learners, and volunteers providing medical and surgical care, mental health care, community health programs, addiction prevention and treatment, and environmental health services.