Healthy Living in the North

Tech. Ed.: When tech support comes to physicians

Pads of paper and a pen are on a wood surface.

UPIC, an initiative of Facility Engagement, recently hosted a lunch and learn at UHNBC to help demystify the use of Northern Health IT tools.

Technology can be a tricky thing. No matter how intelligent the user, sometimes things just don’t work like they seem like they should. That’s where Northern Health’s (NH) Information Technology Services (ITS) comes in.

Over the week of September 16, 2019, Prince George played host to the first series of ITS “lunch and learns.” This joint event, put on by the UHNBC Physician Initiative Committee (UPIC) and Northern Health ITS, gave physicians a chance to sit down face-to-face with members of the ITS team and ask questions. Representatives of third-party technologies and applications that NH and physicians’ offices use were on site (i.e.,Telehealth, Dragon Medical One, Powerchart, and Secure Texting).

“The hope was to assist and educate those wishing to know more about services in Telehealth, Microblogging MD, and the New Dragon dictation service,” says Ky Leischner, Nursing Analyst/Specialist Telehealth with NH.

“Physicians are often lacking time to find the new innovations that could save them time, stress, or to improve patient care. If we can help answer their questions during convenient times, then we’re doing what is required as a support service.”

Over the week, Northern Health ITS and physicians had over 100 face-to-face conversations to help explain how the technologies that they’re using can help physicians be more efficient in their job.

“I found it very informative and appreciated the fact that the session was hosted by the people who understand how to make the technology work for my daily workflow,” says Dr. Neary, Family Physician.

“In particular, having the technology team offer to come to not just our medical building, but specifically offer to sit down with the office staff and myself to improve access to [applications] is a great opportunity to help us be more efficient and improve patient care and access.”

Mark Hendricks

About Mark Hendricks

Mark is the Communications Advisor, Medical Affairs at Northern Health. He was raised in Prince George, and has earned degrees from UNBC (International Business) and Thompson Rivers University (Journalism). As a fan of Fall and Winter, the North suits him and he’s happy to be home in Prince George. When he's not working, Mark enjoys spending time with his wife, reading, playing games of all sorts, hiking, and a good cup (or five) of coffee.

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Telehealth: bridging the gap between physicians and patients

Dr. Abdulla smile in front of medical equipment.

Dr. Abdulla, one call away from a patient appointment. (photo credit: Prince George Citizen)

Telehealth is seeing growing usage in Northern Health, and patients and physicians are seeing the benefits.

“I had a lady sitting on her patio drinking coffee in Quesnel, and I did a followup with her [from Prince George],” said Dr. Abdulla. “That’s the ideal situation. She doesn’t have to drive an hour and 20 minutes each way for a seven-minute appointment.”

Dr. Abdulla is a urologist based out of UHNBC in Prince George who deals with patients from across the North. He knows the difficulty travel can pose for his patients and telehealth has helped them skip the trip, and still receive the quality of care they need.

Physicians can find out more about offering telehealth to your patients or clients at northernhealth.ca/services/programs/telehealth.

Mark Hendricks

About Mark Hendricks

Mark is the Communications Advisor, Medical Affairs at Northern Health. He was raised in Prince George, and has earned degrees from UNBC (International Business) and Thompson Rivers University (Journalism). As a fan of Fall and Winter, the North suits him and he’s happy to be home in Prince George. When he's not working, Mark enjoys spending time with his wife, reading, playing games of all sorts, hiking, and a good cup (or five) of coffee.

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Fort St. John doctor brings new frostbite treatment to Northern BC

Dr. Wilkie and a woman stand beside each other outdoors. Dr. Wilkie holds a toddler.

Thanks to Dr. Wilkie (left), there should be less amputations due to frostbite this winter.

Few things can put an end to winter activities as fast as frostbite, but thanks to one Fort St. John doctor, Northern Health may soon have a better way of treating it.

Dr. Jamie Wilkie, a recent graduate of the UBC Family Medicine residency program, saw a need during his residency in Fort St. John to improve how we are dealing with frostbite.

“I previously lived and worked in Hay River [in the Northwest Territories], have dogsledded in the Yukon, and guided canoe trips in all three territories,” says Dr. Wilkie. “I have personally and professionally seen the impacts of frostbite and related exposure injuries.”

Frostbite treatment became the focus of Dr. Wilkie’s resident scholar project. He collaborated with Jessica Brecknock, Regional Medication Use Management Pharmacist, and Kendra Clary, Med Systems Pharmacy Technician, to create a prepackaged treatment plan (order set) for use of the drug iloprost in severe frostbite cases.

“The literature for the use of iloprost in severe frostbite shows a significant decrease in the need for amputations,” says Dr. Wilkie. “The goal of this project is to improve access to the best evidence-based treatments for severe frostbite in Northern BC.”

Northern Health approved this protocol, and it will be available for use this winter. Dr. Wilkie believes this is the first frostbite order set for iloprost in BC.

Dr. Wilkie moved to Fort St. John in June 2017 and is enjoying all the outdoor opportunities the area has to offer. He and his wife have been hiking around places such as Tumbler Ridge, Hudson Hope, and in Stone Mountain Provincial Park to name a few. They have canoed on the Peace River, and done lots of fishing.

“I knew that I loved the North and the access to fishing, hunting, hiking, and sledding,” says Dr. Wilkie. “I wanted to be in a small town and I wanted to practice full-scope family medicine. I looked at residencies all over the US and Canada, and only Fort St. John checked all those boxes.

“I also really like the people. They are hard working, generous, and generally very appreciative of having physicians in town.”

Mark Hendricks

About Mark Hendricks

Mark is the Communications Advisor, Medical Affairs at Northern Health. He was raised in Prince George, and has earned degrees from UNBC (International Business) and Thompson Rivers University (Journalism). As a fan of Fall and Winter, the North suits him and he’s happy to be home in Prince George. When he's not working, Mark enjoys spending time with his wife, reading, playing games of all sorts, hiking, and a good cup (or five) of coffee.

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Fort Nelson HIV Awareness Week: using language to break down barriers

A table of HIV Awareness materials is pictured.

The table of materials at Fort Nelson’s HIV Awareness Week helps educate attendees.

Language is a powerful thing. It connects to who we are and how we see ourselves. So, when someone takes the time to reach out in your own language — instead of expecting you to understand theirs — it makes a difference.

For the past five years, the community of Fort Nelson has held an HIV Awareness Week. For the most recent one, held the week of April 29, 2019, they decided to mark the occasion by doing something special for the Indigenous members of their community.

Working together with the Fort Nelson Aboriginal Friendship Society, they translated their yearly presentation on HIV into Dené, the most prominent Indigenous language in the area.

“We had one or two Elders who teared up,” said Jennifer Riggs, Regulated Pharmacy Technician and the key organizer for the event. “They were so happy that we took the time — I don’t think it mattered what the conversation was about — but they were so happy that we did it in their language. They really appreciated that we made an effort.”

Fort Nelson, located in Northeastern BC, has a large Indigenous population: roughly 14% of the population identify as Indigenous.

“This event is important in Northern BC, especially in our very isolated towns,” says Jennifer. “Indigenous people have a higher prevalence of HIV … and they aren’t getting that information. We’re trying to bring people up to date.”

This lack of information was the reason Jennifer and her team put in the time and effort to translate the presentation. She wants to ensure that they aren’t left out of the conversation. She hopes to do even more next year by translating the presentation into another Indigenous language.

HIV isn’t something that people usually get excited about, but for Fort Nelson, the event has become something to look forward to. Jennifer estimates that attendance has quadrupled since the initial event five years ago. She hopes that with continued outreach to the Indigenous communities in the area, attendance will continue to grow.

“So many people attend and we’ve come full circle, from where people weren’t talking about sex, to now having condom races at the fire department! It’s becoming normal conversation.”

For Jennifer, this is what it’s all about: to make conversations about topics such as HIV, sex, sexual orientation, and addiction less painful for people to talk about, and to make them part of everyday conversation.

“I want it to be a regular thing. I want continual education and training available all the time. It shouldn’t be a big deal.”

Mark Hendricks

About Mark Hendricks

Mark is the Communications Advisor, Medical Affairs at Northern Health. He was raised in Prince George, and has earned degrees from UNBC (International Business) and Thompson Rivers University (Journalism). As a fan of Fall and Winter, the North suits him and he’s happy to be home in Prince George. When he's not working, Mark enjoys spending time with his wife, reading, playing games of all sorts, hiking, and a good cup (or five) of coffee.

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