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Celebrating Telehealth Week

Registered Nurse Rebecca Tanner demonstrates her digital skills on brand new telehealth equipment
Registered Nurse Rebecca Tanner demonstrates her digital skills on brand new telehealth equipment.

In a year like no other, Telehealth has been at the forefront of health care delivery worldwide. With amazing skill, determination and dedication, many clinicians at Northeast Health Wangaratta (NHW) had to adapt quickly to the disruption of COVID in March to continue providing services and care to the community. The result has been a major uptake of telehealth in its various forms here in Wangaratta, and across the country. NHW is encouraging the community to use video to visit their loved ones while COVID visiting restrictions still apply at the hospital, using hospital devices and any video platform (including FaceTime).

NHW has received Victorian Government funding for much needed equipment. “With COVID funding we were able to purchase video units and powered trolleys to take video anywhere in the hospital” explained Jane Kealey, Telehealth Manager. “At Illoura Residential Aged Care, staff and residents quickly adapted to video consultations by GPs and other clinicians when the hard lockdown came in. A clinical space was prepared, but now the new equipment can now go into residents rooms.”

During Telehealth Awareness Week NHW has acknowledged and celebrated the great efforts of clinicians and support staff, who have gone well outside their digital comfort zones, been inventive and very caring in continuing the delivery of services to our community during a pandemic.

Betty, the self-proclaimed, “Telehealth Convert.”

NHW nurse sat with patient, Betty, in her home holding a mobile device.
Bernadette & Suzie (dogs), Betty and HITH nurse Kate during the Telehealth consultation with a Melbourne based Specialist.

It took some convincing by NHW, Hospital-In-The-Home (HITH) nurses to have Betty believer telehealth could work.  After a long and complicated hospital stay, Betty was very pleased that intravenous antibiotic treatment could be provided by HITH nurses at home without more disruption to her beloved pets Bernadette & Suzie (pictured). But HITH Coordinator Susan Christie said, “Betty was convinced there’d be no way we’d be able to connect to hear and see and talk with a Specialist in Melbourne, and we ‘were dreaming’ as we explained the appointment would be just like seeing the Doctor in person.”

How quickly Betty changed her tune. “As the consultation progress, Betty could be seen smiling and leaning forward, totally engaged and talkative as the Doctor attended a thorough review …. Reclined in a chair with those important to her,” Susan explained.  Betty is now fully recovered and a self-proclaimed, “telehealth convert.”