Since partnering with Pathways to Technology to establish high-speed Internet infrastructure in many areas of BC’s North earlier this year, Carrier-Sekani Family Services (CSFS) has been putting these newfound resources into action. With offices in Prince George, Burns Lake and Vanderhoof and the communities they serve now connected to broadband Internet, CSFS is ready to make the digital transition to better serve First Nations communities across the region.
"Most of our patients are living in remote areas that had little to no online access, and we were forced to use paper records and documents in the past,” said Carrier-Sekani Family Services Project Manager Carol Reimer. "Now we will be able to make the move to electronic healthcare, and streamline our operation to ensure we provide top-of-the-line care to even the most distant First Nations communities.”
Part of that transition begins this fall, when CSFS will review all of their internal positions to determine which new software will best serve their various projects – tailoring the tools to fit the tasks at hand. From there, the organization plans to install virtual clinics in each of the 10 First Nations communities served by Carrier Sekani Family Services.
This advance in technology represents a real shift in the provision of timely care for BC’s First Nations, with doctors and nurses soon able to detect many medical warning signs and concerns with the click of a mouse. The opportunity has been welcomed by patients too, with youth and elders alike excited about the prospect of cutting edge health care, even hundreds of kilometres from a major city.
"Having the ability to video conference and follow-up with doctors via the Internet cuts the wait time for many of our patients from more than a month to a matter of days,” added Reimer. "Whether it’s a matter of monitoring treatments or simply adjusting medications, the Pathways project has opened the door to a timely level of care that has never been seen in this part of the province – a level that most British Columbians have enjoyed for decades.”
The benefits of online healthcare will extend beyond the patients in each community too, with nurses from dozens of remote First Nations bands soon able to connect with doctors from across the province and the country. In a matter of months doctors, dieticians and even specialists will be able to speak directly to those on the ground via the Internet, avoiding the cost and effort of travelling many hours for a consultation.
Still, Carrier-Sekani Family Services remains steady in their pursuit of these services, ensuring the funding and infrastructure are in place before taking each important step forward. It’s with that mentality that CSFS believes a healthcare revolution for BC First Nations is not only possible, but also well within reach.
Posted: November 8, 2011