PEI

Telemedicine pitched as way to keep Montague ER open overnight

The emergency room in Montague, P.E.I., could soon be open 24-hours a day if a local businessman is able to secure funding for his pitch to launch a pilot project for telemedicine.

'If you become sick on the space station, you're seen immediately by a doctor via telemedicine'

Ray Brow estimates that a telemedicine unit for Kings County Memorial Hospital will cost between $20,000 and $28,000 USD.

A businessman in Montague, P.E.I., is hoping to secure a pilot project for telemedicine to keep the emergency room at Kings County Memorial Hospital open 24-hours a day.

Chance are you'll be seen within about 20 minutes and you'll be on your way—Ray Brow

Telemedicine uses specialized equipment that allows doctors in other locations to make a diagnosis.

"The technology is available, is well-proven, we're not re-inventing the wheel," explained Brow.

"We're simply taking the best of technology that is available elsewhere in the world. If you become sick on the space station, you're seen immediately by a doctor via telemedicine … I'd like to see the same services here in Montague."

Ray Brow has been making his pitch for a pilot project at Kings County Memorial Hospital, including here at the Rotary meeting in Montague. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

Reduce wait times

Right now, the emergency room at Kings County is closed overnight, but Brow said nurses are on duty could operate the telemedicine centre as needed.

Telemedicine is already being used in many remote parts of Canada. (otn.ca)

The telemedicine centre could also be used for outpatients, suggested Brow, to help reduce wait times.

"In the daytime, when you come into the hospital, there will be triage," explained Brow. "The nurse will assess if you should see the doctor on duty — the live doc — or whether you could be seen quickly through the telemedicine doctor who would be located elsewhere in the province."

"Chances are you'll be seen within about 20 minutes and you'll be on your way."

Brow says the telemedicine equipment for the pilot project costs between $20,000 and $28,000 USD, depending on the complexity of the system.

Support from Town of Montague

Montague council voted to send a letter to Health P.E.I. in support of the pilot project at Kings County Memorial.

"It's a great chance without going a huge leap to try something, see how it works, see if we can figure out what works best on P.E.I.," said Andrew Daggett, chief administrative officer for the Town of Montague. 

Kings County Memorial Hospital currently shuts down its emergency room overnight. (Google Street View)

Ray Brow has approached Health PEI about the pilot project.

In a statement to the CBC, Health PEI says it has been using tele-health services for more than a decade to connect with specialists across the country, and is looking for new ways to use technology to connect Islanders in rural P.E.I. with specialized services only offered at the two largest acute care hospitals.

It did not comment directly on the proposal for Montague.