Doctors in the neurosurgery unit at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon have a new assistant.

This one doesn't walk down the corridor. He — or rather it — rolls.

It's a robot named "Patrick." RUH is the first place in Canada to use the robot, which was developed in California.

 "This system in my mind will revolutionize the way we provide care to our patients," said Dr. Ivar Mendez, unified head of surgery at the University of Saskatchewan and Saskatoon Health Region.

Although Mendez already uses a robot to train health care providers in two northern Saskatchewan centres, this is the first one in the province used for clinical care.

Has own stethoscope

Tell the robot where in the hospital to go, and it goes there. At the bedside, patients can interact with a doctor who is not even in the room. And the robot can do some of the hands-on diagnostic work.

"It has the peripheral systems that will allow the physician or the health care provider to do what is called point-of-care diagnosis," Mendez explained.

It comes with an electronic stethoscope, and can connect with devices such as scopes and ultrasound.

The robot can make it possible for several health care providers to discuss a patient's case, with some present at the patient's bedside, while others are at a remote location.

Eventually, Patrick will also be used in the intensive care and emergency units. Mendez said it will help busy nurses provide quicker care.

"This system will allow that nurse to see several patients in a timely fashion," he continued. "It will improve flow. It will decrease the time. And of course it will be efficient from the point of view of clinical care."

Purchased through donation

The robot was purchased with a $210,000 donation from a local lawyer and accountant, Merlis Belsher.

It's named for his 14-year-old son, Patrick, who along with Belsher, was present for the announcement this morning.

Belsher said he wants to teach his son about the value of giving back to the community, particularly in the field of health care.