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New age for QEH


CHRIS GOLLOP

New age for QEH

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WITH heart specialist Dr Richard Ishmael on suspension, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) has used telemedicine to deal with cases of young children with heart problems.
Chairman of the QEH board, Reverend Guy Hewitt, described it as the dawning of a new age of patient-centred health care.
He told staff and patients yesterday that faced with several challeges, including increasing cost and staff shortages, the hospital’s management would from now take advantage of improved technology to ensure that the best possible care would be provided to patients at all times – as had been done last Saturday when telemedicine was brought into play.
Hewitt said the board had engaged the services of Dr Peter Gaskin, a Barbadian paediatric cardiologist and associate professor of paediatric cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Centre, in the United States.
Using telemedicine technology, Gaskin consulted with doctors in Barbados over the weekend in examining the cases of young patients with serious heart problems.
Telemedicine involves situations where medical information is transferred through interactive audiovisual media for the purpose of consulting and sometimes, to perform remote medical procedures or examinations.
That was the way the QEH will be going in the future, Hewitt said, noting that he had had several discussions with doctors in the diaspora who had responded favourably to the idea orf providing their expertise.
Ishmael, a paediatric cardiologist, is now on a month-long suspension pending an investigation into allegations of inappropiate behaviour.
Responding to calls by the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners to reinstate Ishmael, charging that his absence could compromise the welfare of patients under his charge, Hewitt said the board would not be drawn into a public debate on the issue, but had instead focused on filling the void.
The use of improved technology, and the new focus on “patient-centred health care” should pave the way for better treatment for patients at the QEH, said Hewitt.
“Traditional medicine was often illness-centred or cure-centred; the focus was on attacking and overcoming the disease. The patient – his comfort, mental status, wishes and desires – was secondary to defeating the medical enemy.
“But that no longer needs to be the case. A patient-centred approach offers an add-on to the current care through a low-technology, systems-based approach to many of the problems and challenges that exist in the QEH.

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