Haiti Trauma Hospital Receives 24-Hour Telemedicine Support
The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has just launched a telemedicine program that provides doctors at Haiti’s only trauma, critical care and rehabilitation hospital with access to around-the-clock medical support through live video communication with UM trauma specialists.
Located in Port-au-Prince’s Village Solidarite neighborhood, Hospital Bernard Mevs sees a high volume of adult and pediatric patients with a range of critical injuries and conditions that doctors there are not fully equipped to handle.
“Our mission is to support the hospital when they have critical care cases that require a higher level of expertise,” said UM trauma surgeon Carl I. Schulman, M.D., Ph.D., M.S.P.H., professor of surgery in the Division of Trauma, Burns/Critical Care and Director of the William Lehman Injury Research Center. He developed the project in collaboration with Antonia Eyssallenne, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics and Director of the Pediatrics Residency Program at Hospital Bernard Mevs.
“Haitian doctors who staff the hospital will be a lot more comfortable and confident doing trauma stabilizations with a UM doctor virtually by their side,” said Eyssallenne, who has continued working in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake.
Patients, she said, come from near and far to receive care for critical injuries from motorcycle accidents, falls from trees and gunshots.
While doctors at Hospital Bernard Mevs have received extensive training from Miller School faculty over the years, sometimes the doctors staffing the hospital are not specialists in trauma or intensive care.
“Although the basics of stabilization are in place and can be done by the majority of the Haitian staff, there are cases that require more sophisticated and specialized attention to manage properly,” Eyssallenne said.
With the new telemedicine project, guidance from an on-call UM trauma doctor will be a phone call and a few computer clicks away — enabling the staff at Hospital Bernard Mevs to better diagnose, stabilize injuries and provide longer term care to patients.
The high-definition video conferencing system is provided by Polycom software. Web cameras also will allow UM trauma specialists to view the patients’ injuries and symptoms and devise the best response.
“The project is phenomenal and literally requires just a laptop and Web cam,” Eyssallenne said. “The improved outcome and prognosis for patients will be immeasurable.”
UM has had a longstanding relationship with Hospital Bernard Mevs, and like many of the Miller School’s physicians, Schulman and Eyssallenne were first responders to the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Shortly after the devastation, UM also merged its earthquake response operation with the hospital and has continued its support through Project Medishare, which allows faculty and residents to volunteer at the hospital.
In addition to providing trauma support, Schulman said the live video technology will allow UM doctors to assist with some of the regular critical care hospital rounds.
“This project breaks down obstacles to patients receiving adequate care and will help further educate Haitian doctors in trauma and critical care,” said Schulman.