The lack of access to vital health care services remains a major issue for people living on Vancouver Island.
It can be especially true when it comes to finding specialized care for critically ill children.
A new service in place in B.C., the first of its kind in Canada, is bringing that much needed care right to them.
The Tele Pediatric Intensive Care Service sees a specialist in a remote location able to assess a patient.
They appear via video link and use a robotic high definition camera, even a digital stethoscope.
It allows them to carry out a thorough examination alongside a staff on site
“We’re able to hear as clearly, if not more clearly than if we were in the room,” said Dr. Maureen O’Donnell.
The service has changed the lives of Cindy Dent and her 11-month old son Gabe.
He was born with a very rare genetic disease called Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome.
It causes severe muscle weakness including respiratory problems.
“Its very stressful, because I’m a single mom, I’m dealing with that has been overbearing at times,” she said.
Gabe’s neuromuscular specialist is in Vancouver and that would have meant frequent trips and lengthy stays in hospital in another city.
Now with tele-care, that crucial help can instead be offered to him at Victoria General Hospital.
“The plan was to arrange helicopter transport back to Vancouver for repeated visits,” said Dr. Jeff Bishop.
“So three times we’ve been able to keep Gabe on the island.”
The service is expected to grow but is now in place in Victoria, Nanaimo, Vancouver and Trail.
It already allows hospitals and health care professionals across the province to link up to help patients most at risk.
“It means a lot, because its stopped us having to travel,” Cindy Dent said.
“Travelling is just difficult, it pulls me away from my family.”
So far it is making a difficult situation a lot easier for one mother and son to live with.