box10.gif (1299 bytes)








River Valley extends tele-mental health program

FREDERICTON, N.B. – River Valley Health has announced an expansion of its Telemental health program to every emergency department in the region. Until recently, specialized emergency mental-health services were available only at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital Emergency Department, in Fredericton. As of June 15, the specialized service was made available to all emergency rooms in the region through telehealth technology.

“We are pleased to receive this enhanced service,” said Darline Cogswell, ER Nurse Manager, Oromocto Public Hospital. “This will improve our ability to handle psychiatric emergencies at the community level, particularly when making decisions about patient transfers, treatment, and follow-up.”

In 2005, River Valley Health launched a pilot project between the emergency department at the regional hospital and the emergency department at Hotel Dieu of St. Joseph, in Perth-Andover. Through the use of telehealth technology, the ER staff in Perth-Andover has 24-hour access to psychiatric nurses and on-call psychiatrists at the regional hospital. This has enhanced the staff’s ability to more accurately assess individuals presenting to the ER in Perth-Andover with urgent mental health needs. With the expansion of the program across the region, all ER physicians and nurses in River Valley Health can access the same service.

Telehealth video monitors have been set up in each emergency department in the region. On-call psychiatric nurses and psychiatrists can now consult with ER staff in other River Valley Health facilities, and assess patients requiring emergency mental health services, without the patient having to travel.

“The region-wide expansion of emergency psychiatric and mental health services means patients do not have to travel to Fredericton to access specialized care,” said Dr. David Addleman, Clinical Chief of Psychiatry, River Valley Health. “Psychiatrists in this region fully support this expansion because it allows us to provide a more rapid response to health professionals in rural ERs.”

“Over the last fiscal year, telehealth activity in our region has increased by nearly 100 percent,” said Andrea Seymour, VP Health Information and Chief Information Officer, River Valley Health. “The expansion of emergency Telemental health to all six of our emergency rooms is an important example of our regions innovative use of technology to improve access to health care services.”

River Valley Health is the largest geographic health region in the province of New Brunswick. Its integrated network of hospitals, health centres, and specialty care programs provide a broad range of healthcare services to 166,000 residents of the province.