By Cara Christopherson
Canada’s first tele-paediatric intensive care service (tele-PICU) provides children with increased access to specialized care closer to their home community.
The service is currently available at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital, Nanaimo Regional Hospital and Victoria General Hospital as well as BC Children’s Hospital. Tele-PICU was established by Child Health BC in partnership with the Island and Interior health authorities.
Tele-PICU allows teams at BC Children’s or Victoria General Hospital to assess children closer to their community through real-time, two-way videoconferencing. Tele-PICU teams use high resolution cameras and digital stethoscopes that enable physicians and nurses to see patients as well as to listen to and amplify sounds of the heart and lungs of seriously ill or injured children.
“Children are among our most vulnerable, and being able to provide specialized care for them in their home community means the world to them and their parents. By using the latest innovations in health care, we’re reducing the burden of travel for parents of seriously ill children, allowing them the comforts of home during a stressful time,” says Health Minister Terry Lake.
As a result of this initiative, intensive care teams can now collaborate with health care providers in communities across the province to help children receive diagnosis and treatment sooner and often without leaving their community. When a child does not need to be transferred to BC Children’s or Victoria General, families face fewer burdens including reduced travel costs, time away from work and are able to stay better connected to their community support networks. The service also supports health care providers by sharing new knowledge and best practices to further building the capacity of health care providers.
Tele-PICU is part of Child Health BC’s Children’s Virtual Care initiative that integrates tele-health and other technologies to enhance services to children throughout BC. These sites include technology and tele-health equipment as well as equipment to support pediatric visits with trained nurses and support staff.
- Children’s Virtual Care is available in 17 communities, four of which include Tele-PICU. Availability will expand in areas where families experience the greatest challenges of isolation and geographical barriers.
- Programs at BC Children’s now using tele-health include:
o Audiology and Early Hearing
o Biochemical Diseases
o Complex Care
o Cystic Fibrosis