The initiative, launched by Regional Cities and Major Projects Minister Dr Denis Napthine on Thursday, means critically injured and ill patients from this region will have the best of both worlds when it comes to medical opinion: specialists here in Warrnambool and specialists in Melbourne working side-by-side in the one room at the one time.
On occasion this is expected to save some local people having to be aired or road-ambulanced by retrieval services to Melbourne. On other occasions it may well save lives. At all times it will assist in providing the best expert opinion available.
This access to critical care specialists provides the very real possibility that seriously ill children may not need to be transported to Melbourne, saving them and their families huge upheaval.
‘We have high-level paediatric specialists in this region so this really is the icing on the cake,’ says SWH Centre for Rural Emergency Medicine Director/Associate Professor Tim Baker.
The Royal Children’s Hospital is hoping all other Victorian hospitals will take South West Healthcare’s lead and replicate the initiative.
Made possible by Aussie Farmers Foundation gifting the otherwise unaffordable video-conferencing technology, this SWH Rural Critical Care Support Project launch saw Minister Napthine – for the first time in his political career - instead of cutting a ribbon, tying two together: a symbolic gesture to demonstrate connectivity between country and city.
The connectivity was further demonstrated with live video link to Adult Retrieval Victoria Director Dr Marcus Kennedy (pictured on the TV screen) and the Royal Children’s Hospital PETS (Paediatric Emergency Transport) Service.
This is not the first time SWH has led the charge in new-age virtual reality. In December our Intensive Care Unit became the first in rural Victoria to have a direct electronic link with specialists in Melbourne. Its Polycom mobile cart, fitted with high-definition image and audio equipment, allows medical staff at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne to co-monitor Warrnambool Base Hospital ICU patients. It also allows medical students and nurses to tap into the education program at St Vincent’s.