Pregnant rural women teleconference with experts

Distance to midwives and obstetricians can hinder the level of care that expectant mothers receive in rural locations.

Trisha Shanks

Arrow Lakes News

Distance to midwives and obstetricians can hinder the level of care that expectant mothers receive in rural locations. Local family doctors can now assist in bridging the geographical gap that exists here in the Kootenays thanks to a new program being rolled out by Shared Care/Kootenay Boundary Division of family practice. The pilot project is funded in partnership by Doctors of BC and the Ministry of Health.

Virtual appointments are currently being piloted in the area. Because of the distance to major centres, women in more rural areas have to consider the time, distance and cost of travel when making appointments with pregnancy care professionals in Nelson. The worse the weather and the further along in their pregnancy, the less women tend to travel but this is normally when they need the most care.

“This is a new way of applying technology that has become familiar to anyone who chats online,” explains Mona Mattei, project manager for the tele-maternity pilot. “In the past, patients and physicians would need to go to a high-tech video conferencing site at the hospital. This new tele-health service takes it to the next level. It’s easy to access and better for both patients and their physicians to ensure healthy babies.”

To access the service, the patient simply makes an appointment with their general practitioner and the obstetrician or midwife at the same time and then goes to the doctor in her own location. The local doctor then uses a computer complete with webcam to act as the intermediary between the patient and the specialist.


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