Patients to benefit from new technology at Cooma Hospital

PATIENTS AT COOMA Hospital are set to benefit from a new initiative linking regional emergency departments with Canberra Hospital and the Snowy Hydro SouthCare Rescue Helicopter base.

The 'Telehealth Program' will link the Canberra Hospital and helicopter base with a number of regional hospitals via video link using video conferencing platforms to assist with clinical consultations for critically ill patients.

Cooma Hospital is one of four hospitals, including Queanbeyan, Moruya and Batemans Bay, where a six month trial will take place.

The program will use over bed cameras, microphones and speakers in one resuscitation bed to transmit images and vital signs to the referal or hub site in the ACT.

Director of Critical Care, Critical Care Unit, Murrumbidgee and Southern NSW Local Health Districts, Dr Patricia Saccasan Whelan said it was a very exciting program for the region.

"Cooma was chosen as a hospital, which has wonderful service from its GP visiting medical officers, however, there are no critical care specialists on site to give the specialised advice needed for when someone comes in a very critically ill state, for example, when they have suffered multiple trauma from a motor vehicle accident or they have serious respiratory failure or heart issues," she said.

Previously, those patients would usually need to be transferred to a larger teaching hospital. The managing doctor at Cooma would have to phone the Emergency Department at the Canberra Hospital or the retrieval service to receive advice and treat the patient until the helicopter arrived.

"As from this week, the doctor in the retrieval headquarters or the Canberra Hospital Emergency Department will actually be able to see the patient in the Cooma Emergency Department on a very high resolution television screen, as well as the other staff who are treating the patient," Dr Saccasan Whelan said.

"They will also be able to see all of the patient's observations, ECG and X-rays for themselves and be able to engage in a live conversation with the treating team and the patient whenever necessary until the retrieval team arrives.  This will enable the most excellent early care available for a  critically ill person in a rural hospital who is going to require transfer for further care.”

The system went live on Monday September 3.

Member for Monaro John Barilaro said telehealth initiatives would create better health outcomes for patients in Cooma.  

“Telehealth technology will enable patients in Cooma to quickly connect to multiple high quality specialist clinical services,” he said.

"This trial has the serious potential to save lives in the Cooma region"

The pilot will run for six months and will be evaluated prior to further roll out to more sites.

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