Indigenous children in northern Saskatchewan communities are at risk of affordable pediatric health care due to their location.
As part of a solution, a partnership was formed between Jim Pattinson Children’s Hospital, the University of Regina, and First Nations University of Canada to expand a previously proven virtual healthcare platform.
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Dr. Gregory Hansen, a pediatric ICU neurocritical care provider who is the principal investigator on this pilot project, says that he and another colleague worked with the Pelican Narrows in northern Saskatchewan using a robot with a screen that allowed a specialist pediatric hospital to be virtually at the bedside of the sick child rather than transporting him to Saskatoon.
“The robot is the size of a small person,” he said. “It can be controlled with a remote control at any center. All you need is access to the network. “
Dr Hansen said this approach will help the pilot project find other ways to use virtual health care in indigenous communities in the north to provide adequate care for children.
“The question that [was] Asked in the pilot project, can we provide optimal care through a robot? ”Dr. Hansen said. “Over a period of time, they found that they could maintain 63 percent of [sick] kids in Pelican Narrows [who] would have been transported back to Saskatoon. “
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Sick children at Pelican Narrows were cared for by nurses and nurse practitioners in the community. Follow-ups with the pediatric team in Saskatoon were done almost daily.
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This approach resonated in the community as what Dr. Hansen calls it: “culturally safe and appropriate.”
This metric sparked the idea of expanding the project to help other indigenous children in the northern communities.
“That’s where we are right now, very preliminary stages of engagement with the community,” he said. “We want to see if the findings from this project can be replicated on a much broader scale.”
The virtual healthcare pilot project received federal funding of $ 1.27 million through a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) over the next five years.
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The research team will work with numerous indigenous communities within the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council and the Northern Intertribal Health Authority.
Dr. Hansen will work with Cassandra Opikokew Wajuntah from the Indigenous Peoples Health Research Center and colleagues from Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital to carry out the pilot project.
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