Critical care closer to home

Through partnerships and technology, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare has introduced virtual critical care that will enable more critically-ill patients to stay in Muskoka hospitals for the intensive care they need, close to their family and friends.

Through a nearly $50,000 North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN investment in additional telemedicine technology at both of MAHC’s sites, our care teams will have direct access, when needed, to the expertise of six Intensivists from Barrie’s Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) for clinical support and consultation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This virtual access to specialized medicine is a patient-focused approach to care closer to home to the right patient, in the right place, at the right time. It provides real-time clinical support to critical care units and emergency departments in smaller hospitals, and also helps to reduce the need for patients to be transferred to another facility.

“Virtual critical care allows patients cared for in smaller hospitals like ours to benefit from services of larger organizations, reducing access barriers caused by distance,” says Dr. Khal Salem, Chief of Internal Medicine for MAHC. “Through secure videoconferencing, our Internists in Huntsville and South Muskoka are able to access advice from Intensivists virtually on an emergency basis. When time matters most, quicker advanced critical care can make the difference in saving lives.”

Introducing virtual critical care aligns with three of MAHC’s strategic areas, and will help to optimize clinical resources in rural and small communities for the highest quality of care, adds Chief Executive Officer Natalie Bubela.

“Anytime we can provide better care locally by removing geographic obstacles that can limit a patient’s access to appropriate care is a positive step toward enhancing the patient’s and the family’s experience,” says Bubela. “We are eager to see this virtual critical care technology in action and are excited to grow our relationships with RVH, Critical Care Services Ontario, ORNGE, Criticall and the Ontario Telemedicine Network and are grateful for the LHIN’s funding support.”

Partnerships such as these are a hallmark of Ontario’s health care system and integral to ensuring access to care.

“By supporting virtual critical care, many critically-ill patients will be able to stay in their home hospital where they receive excellent care,” says Dr. Chris Martin, RVH’s Chief of Critical Care and Medical Director of Intensive Care. “RVH is pleased to assist our partners in continuing to provide high-quality, evidence-based critical care throughout North Simcoe Muskoka.”

Photo: Drs. Khal Salem and Scott Whynot with Sue, a Registered Nurse, connect virtually with Dr. Chris Martin, an Intensivist from Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre to facilitate a consultation in the ICU.

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