Jan. 23, 2009
SAINT JOHN (CNB) - The 10th anniversary of the Telehealth program in the province is being celebrated today.
Health Minister Michael Murphy; Donald J. Peters, president and CEO of Regional Health Authority B; and RHA board chair John Laidlaw attended a ceremony at the Saint John Regional Hospital to mark the milestone.
"New Brunswickers can be proud of our long-standing Telehealth program, which enhances the delivery of health-care and saves lives," said Murphy. "By reducing patients' need to return to emergency rooms, this technology is also promoting the sustainability of the public system while we pursue our common goal of self-sufficiency by 2026."
The province launched the program on Dec. 6, 1998, when it deployed its first home unit. This was part of a cardiac research and development project called Virtual Telehealth Assistance Links, or VITAL. The plan was to develop a sustainable, scaleable, clinically and technologically sound solution to enhancing patient access by overcoming geography.
Peters said that the innovation of the program has been outstanding, and warrants recognition.
"I look forward to seeing this program continue to grow and support patients throughout New Brunswick," said Peters.
Telehealth co-ordinator Krisan Palmer; Dr. Marc Pelletier, clinical department head, cardiac surgery; and former cardiac patient Jean-Marie Godin provided a demonstration of Telehealth at the ceremony.
"I am extremely proud of the work that has been done by everyone involved with the Telehealth program over the past 10 years," Palmer said. "Our colleagues, strategic partners, friends and families are celebrating our successes, our future potential, and each other as integral members of an incredible team that always had the motto, 'We'll make it work.'"
Guest speakers included Margaret Melanson, executive director, Zone 2, Saint John; and Jonathan Linkous, executive director, American Telemedicine Association. Canadian Society of Telehealth president Trevor Cradduck sent a letter that was read at the event.
The Telehealth program has won 16 awards from various national and international agencies for pioneering leadership in innovative technology and best practices. In 2008 it won the Canadian Society of Telehealth Award of Excellence for significant contribution to telehealth in Canada, and a Consumer Health World Award for Best Technology Application for Enhancing Patient Care and Access. It also won the National Telehealth Co-ordinator Distinguished Service Award and the Enterprise Fredericton Knowledge Industry Recognition Achievements Award for Knowledge Industry Person of the Year, both of which were presented to Palmer.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Meghan Cumby, communications, Department of Health, 506-457-3522; Erin Barnes, communications, Regional Health Authority B, 506-648-6139.