Peace Region residents got to see the possible future of medicine in the area on Monday when the Taylor Medical Clinic officially re-opened.
Even before the doors were officially opened at 1 p.m., about a dozen people had already been into use their services.
Taylor Mayor Fred Jarvis said he believed based on this early arrival, the Taylor Clinic was "going to explode."
"It's great that we've got it here," he said. "There's a lot of other communities that say they want to have a look at itand are having difficulties with burnouts of doctors, and all that stuff. LiveCare is really going to be inundated with enquiries about what it's all about."
LiveCare is a Vancouver telemedicine company. Its CEO, Dr. Mark Godley, said that his company came after they heard about the doctor situation within the Peace Region.
"(LiveCare's technology) allows patients to have access to physicians when they normally wouldn't have access," he said. "You can provide equally, high quality care from a distance."
In the Taylor Clinic, patients go into doctors rooms with a nurse. That nurse then uses medical equipment to take pictures of parts of the body like the inside of the mouth, the ears, and to take peoples heartbeats and other medical information. That information is then relayed to a doctor elsewhere in the province in real-time, and through the web, the doctor can interact with their patient.
Godley said that this is the second time telemedicine has been attempted on a similar scale. Earlier, the Nisga'a First Nation used the technology to help their situation when they were left without any doctors.
That technology has been "very successful" over there, he said. This is the first time that an urban municipality has attempted this, however.
"It's a big risk to the municipality to come and say we're going to give this a go," Godley admitted.
Questions have also been raised about the technology. Earlier, Northern Health's Vice-President of Medicine Ronald Chapman said that while telemedicine can work, it is not the preferred method. He said that there may be details that some doctors can miss working through telemedicine.
Godley admitted that Chapman may have a point.
"Like anything it's got limitations; technology has limitations, but so do people," he said. "Some doctors face to face also miss details; they may not be the right person for you. So at the end of the day this is what it is. It's an enabler."
Either way, it seemed to work for at least one Taylor resident, Roger Barrette.
"It'll make it easier for a lot of people who don't have vehicles down here," he said. "They have a shortage of doctors here, so they got to do something."
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