Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Telemedicine coming to Bustamante

Published:Wednesday | September 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Contributed Syon Garrick (back to camera), director of the South East Regional Health Authority, has the audience at Bustamante Hospital for Children, St Andrew, spellbound while explaining the telemedicine system that will facilitate the sharing of vital patient information electronically with experts in various medical fields across the globe.

Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer

Jamaica's paediatric health-care delivery capability is poised for a mega boost with the opening of the Telemedicine Centre at the Bustamante Hospital for Children in St Andrew by year end. This innovative facility will allow for more accurate diagnosis and treatment of critical illnesses, as local doctors will be able to interact with world-leading medical professionals across the globe.

This was disclosed during last Wednesday's media tour of the hospital where Sylvia Chrominski, board chairperson of the Scotia Group, got a chance to interact with some of the doctors, nurses and other health-care workers who will utilise the state-of-the-art equipment being donated by her company.

"Our children are precious, and nothing hurts us more than seeing them unwell. Their total wellfare is at the heart of Scotiabank's ongoing commitment to developing the health sector," she declared.

The Telemedicine Centre in Jamaica, which is being made possible through a C$1 million pledge from Scotiabank's global philanthropic project, Bright Future, to support the Caribbean-SickKids Paediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders project, will go a far way in achieving this objective, according to Dr Michelle Ann Richards Dawson, senior medical officer at Bustamante.

"We recognise it as a major step because this is something which is well overdue. It's standard in many United States and United Kingdom hospitals and around the world, so this contribution by Scotiabank is really a landmark contribution and, I'm sure, will go a long way in managing the children and challenges we face," she told The Gleaner.

The overall project is projected to revolutionise health-care delivery for children. It will provide customised hands-on training to Jamaican doctors, facilitate the establishment and maintenance of a patient registry to provide high-quality data and key outcomes, as well as increase the knowledge of primary-care practitioners and pharmacists in the region to improve cancer-care access.

accurate, timely diagnoses

The process of accurate and timely diagnoses, so critical to improving the chances of recovery for critically ill children, is also expected to be advanced in a very significant way.

Dr Richards Dawson explained: "So we have a scenario here in Jamaica, let me choose a complex heart condition or a cancer case which is not one of the common ones that we usually see and may be challenging for us. That information would be shared confidentially with the specialist of SickKids in Canada, who will advise, as well as walk along with us, in the management of this child to get the best outcome."

She added, "They won't see the patient directly, but they can see the information about the patient because there is always the confidentiality issue. But that would also be closely adhered to in our management with the patients and with parents' consent, of course.

"We may not have seen cases like that before, or even if we have, the doctor might be a little different in his/her response ... . because it's a video, without that facility, we would then have to videotape, find VHS tape, or DVD and send it to them. Therefore, there is a time lapse for you to have to mail it off or ship it off. However, this way, they get to see what we are talking about in real time while having discussions. So it's an ongoing real-time discussion, and it will avoid the delays that can hamper the healing process."