News

Project Expands Service in Carrier-Sekani

May 2011

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When opportunity comes knocking to create mutual success, the Pathways to Technology team is there to extend a helping hand. In the case of the Carrier-Sekani Family Services in central British Columbia, Pathways is pleased to step up as a willing community partner and support their innovative Internet infrastructure project.

Carrier-Sekani Family Services (CSFS) was already months into designing and installing a secure network that would help boost business and telehealth ventures in the region. The plan called for a network to connect the CSFS head office in Prince George with several other branch offices and community health centres, from Vanderhoof to Burns Lake and beyond. Recognizing the opportunities to complement and leverage the work underway, the Pathways project reached out to the CSFS to support their initiative.

This groundbreaking new partnership saw Pathways provide financial assistance to significantly expand the scope of the Carrier-Sekani Family Services initiative. The investment by the Pathways project added community connections for homes and businesses in the Saikuz First Nation, Nadleh First Nation, Stellat’en First Nation, Wetsuwet’en First Nation, Takla First Nation and Yekooche First Nation. With the project now 98% complete, over 11,000 people in 10 separate First Nation communities are receiving the benefits of high-speed Internet access.

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"This network gives the community clinics and public health centres a huge advantage – and with the Pathways initiative this can also potentially bring benefits for businesses, social services, community health centres and schools,” said Carrier-Sekani Family Services Director of Finance Carol Reimer. "Access to high-speed Internet service is a tremendous asset for this whole region, but the real benefactors are the people living in these communities.”

Perhaps the biggest success of the Pathways project in Carrier-Sekani lies in the creation of a complete telehealth network that is vital for remote First Nations communities. With the physical network nearly complete, full access to long-distance health care programs, where in the past there was simply not enough Internet bandwidth to provide them, is now just weeks away. That gives thousands of residents the chance to see a specialist remotely over the Internet from their community health care centre, rather than travelling several hours and hundreds of kilometres for a half-hour consultation.

"Now local doctors can do far more than they could ever do without high-speed Internet,” added Joseph Mendez, Project Advisor and Vice President of Healthtech Consultants West. "Patients will be able to do pre- and post-visits, consults, and follow ups – all without the burden and cost of travelling to a major health centre in another city.”

This jump in Internet technology would not be fully utilized, though, without hours of training and support through CSFS and the Pathways to Technology program. Through a strategic plan, project organizers will ensure health care professionals in the region are trained on the ins and outs of the telehealth network, in order to maximize its benefits for the Carrier-Sekani people.

Posted: May 18, 2011