New program enhances care for critically ill patients in Northwestern Ontario

Thunder Bay, ON – Medical emergencies can happen anywhere, any time. When they do, a new program provides critically ill patients across Northwestern Ontario with enhanced support and service. Earlier today, the new program was demonstrated via videoconference at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) and Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre.

“The Regional Critical Care Response Program improves care for regional patients,” said Dr. Michael Scott, Critical Care Physician Lead. “Healthcare providers, linked by technology, can provide assessment and management for timelier care for patients. It is an exciting collaboration to deliver exceptional critical care.”

Made possible through funding from the North West Local Health Integration Network (North West LHIN), the Regional Critical Care Response (RCCR) Program is an innovative eHealth strategy that leverages Ontario Telehealth Network (OTN) to facilitate videoconferencing for real-life patient assessment for patients requiring transfer to Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC). TBRHSC has the only level 3 critical care unit and is the lead trauma centre within the North West LHIN.

 “The RCCR Program exemplifies integration through the sharing of expertise amongst all hospitals in the North West LHIN by leveraging technology.  A number of potential benefits can be realized including better outcomes for patients through earlier access to specialized treatments, shorter transfer times, or even the opportunity to eliminate the need to transfer a patient, bringing care closer to home.” Laura Kokocinski, CEO, North West Local Health Integration Network

The RCCR Program connects 11 of the Northwest community Emergency Departments and Intensive Care Units (ICU) to critical care trained physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists at TBRHSC. The RCCR Program can be accessed 24/7 for adult patients who are critically ill or medically unstable. Calls to the RCCR Program are attended to by an Intensivist and a specially trained critical care nurse. Additional medical services may join the call, including respiratory therapy, the critical care pharmacist, dietician, trauma Nurse Practitioner, general surgery, neurosurgery, etc.

“Real-time patient assessment prepares patients for transfer via Ornge sooner. The opportunity and funding to develop this collaborative partnership and leverage technology brings critical care and trauma expertise to patients across Northwestern Ontario,” said Rhonda Crocker Ellacott, EVP, Patient Care at TBRHSC.

Dave Murray, CEO, Meno Ya Win Health Centre in Sioux Lookout and the RCCR Program project Sponsor, noted several advantages of the Program. “Videoconferencing will allow for a real time evaluation of the patient from the inter-professional perspective. Sending, transporting and receiving team members will be able to simultaneously communicate and provide an expedited, timely and safe transfer of the patient,” he said.

The RCCR Program began March 31, 2015 at Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora, Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre, Dryden Regional Health Centre and La Verendrye Hospital in Fort Frances.  Atikokan General Hospital, Wilson Memorial Hospital in Marathon, Manitouwadge General Hospital and The McCaulsland Hospital in Terrace Bay will join by July 1, 2015 and Nipigon District Memorial Hospital, Margaret Cochenour Memorial Hospital in Red Lake and Geraldton District Hospital by September 15, 2015.

(Dr. Mike Kirlew and Brenda Wessel, RN, speak with Dr. Mark Stallwood at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre via teleconference during a simulation held at the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre emergency department on June 12th.)