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A robot named Rosie is helping people on the northern coast of Labrador receive health-care services in their home community.


Rosie the robot is being tested as a tool to help doctors and patients in remote locations. ((CBC))

This week Rosie allowed Nain resident Hulda Merkuratsuk to consult with Dr. Michael Jong in Happy Valley-Goose Bay — something that would have previously required flying more than 350 kilometres south to central Labrador.

"I’m really happy I was talking to Dr. Jong and I'm staying here in Nain instead of going to Goose Bay," said Merkuratsuk.

For a physician, it's almost like being in the same room with a patient: they can move Rosie around, zoom in to read an ultrasound or double check a pill bottle.

There are no doctors based in Nain, so Rosie can help in an emergency.

If a patient can't be flown out because of weather, the $250,000 robot should allow a doctor to lead resuscitation.

Dr. Ivar Mendez , a neurosurgeon in Halifax who helped launch the Nain robot project, said no other northern clinic in Canada is using the same equipment but he hopes that eventually many more will.

"The experience that is gained here will be critical for the expansion of these technologies to the rest of the world," said Mendez. "That's something that the nurses and patients in Labrador should be very proud of."