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Virtual Critical Care network helps with premature delivery in Espanola

Espanola hospital connected with Health Sciences North for procedure 
Kaarina Beavis holds her daughter Leah, who was born eight weeks premature in Espanola, and later transferred to Health Sciences North. Health Sciences North's Virtual Critical Care network helped guide medical staff in Espanola deliver her baby. Supplied photo.

Health Sciences North's Virtual Critical Care network helped an Espanola mother safely give birth to her daughter eight weeks early.

In the early morning of Sunday, Sept. 25 Kaarina Beavis was rushed to the Espanola Regional Hospital and Health Centre's emergency department after going into labour eight weeks early.

The Espanola hospital does not normally deliver babies, and it was too risky to transport Beavis to Health Sciences North – 80 kilometres away – by the time she arrived at the emergency department.

Staff in Espanola immediately contacted Health Sciences North and Toronto's SickKids, to bring both hospitals up to speed on the situation.

Specialists at Health Sciences North were able to guide health-care workers in Espanola thanks to the Virtual Critical Care network's videoconferencing technology. 

Staff with SickKids remained on the phone for additional support.

“It was a little weird having people in another hospital watch me give birth, but it made a huge difference for the delivery,” Kaarina Beavis, said in a press release. “We feel very blessed that everything came together and that VCC was available. Leah is doing great.”

Shortly after 7 a.m., Beavis gave birth to Leah, who weighed around two kilograms (four pounds). Beavis and her daughter were then transferred to Health Sciences North, where Leah spent about three weeks in the Neo-natal Intensive Care and Pediatrics units. Leah was discharged on Thursday, Oct.20.

“This delivery served as a perfect example of how VCC (Virtual Critical Care ) technology helps bridge the gap between the larger and smaller hospitals to provide the highest quality care,“ said Dr. Sean Mahoney, an emergency department physician at Espanola Regional Hospital and Health Centre who took part in the VCC birth.

“Being able to communicate with our obstetric, pediatric and respiratory therapy colleagues during this delivery was extremely helpful and was without a doubt a major factor in a good outcome for mom and baby. This is definitely one of the most gratifying examples of collegiality and team work in my career.”

The Virtual Critical Care set-up at Health Sciences North is the first model of its kind in Canada.

Launched in May 2014, the network uses videoconferencing technology and electronic medical records sharing to connect Health Sciences North with smaller critical care units and emergency departments at more than 20 hospitals across northeastern Ontario.  

Virtual Critical Care received start-up funding through the North East Local Health Integration Network and uses a special software program created by the Ontario Telemedicine Network.


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