Mildura Base Hospital, with the support of the Better Care Victoria 2016-17 Innovation Fund, has partnered with Alfred Health, Melbourne Health and the Royal Children’s Hospital to use telehealth technology to improve access to intensivists and specialists in tertiary and level 2 intensive care units (ICU). This will ensure patients with complex conditions, who are receiving care, stay close to their families and support networks. This video provides some further information about the project.

Title: Mildura Base telehealth service

Dr Travis Taggert, Emergency & ICU Resident, Mildura Base Hospital
Mildura Base Hospital is unique, in a sense that we service a population area of approximately 80,000 people. Of that, we see approximately 600 patients who are admitted to the Mildura Base Intensive Care Unit. 

Greg Plummer, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Mildura Base Hospital 
I’ve always felt that there’s been patients I feel that we can keep in Mildura, with a little bit more support.

Dr Travis Taggert, Emergency & ICU Resident, Mildura Base Hospital
The statistics have shown we will transfer to a tertiary hospital approximately 120 patients in a 12-month period. So, when the telehealth program launches, it will be able to provide that additional level of support in collaborative care with our already fantastic staff that we have here at the Mildura Base ICU. Our aim is to, number 1, reduce the number of transfers that are unnecessary to a tertiary centre and, 2, also provide day-to-day 24/7 support to our local doctors, nurses and other staff working here on the ground in our ICU. What we’re able to do, is bring in a widescreen plasma TV and that’s remotely connected, for example, at the Royal Children’s Hospital. The specialist in their ICU can physically see our room here, so they can zoom into our monitors, they can see what our settings are on our ventilators, they can see what syringe drivers we have going, what the patient physically looks like. Being able to see that patient via the telehealth program, we’ll be able to paint a whole picture.

Greg Plummer, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Mildura Base Hospital 
It’s great to have an affirmation that we’re on the right track, and a lot of times we are. It’s also great for families who really don’t want to be uprooted to Adelaide or Melbourne and find it really stressful, so it has huge benefits for the community.

Dr Travis Taggert, Emergency & ICU Resident, Mildura Base Hospital
The costs associated, not only to patients, but to their families when they’re transferred, is significant and the costs are not only financial. There’s the social cost, there’s the impact that it has on a family function, as a dynamic.

Patient
I ended up going to the hospital. They did the blood test and everything and said that I had acute renal necrosis. All the cells in my kidneys died. They said I had to be flown up from Melbourne. I got four kids and a partner, Mum. She’s pretty sick herself. I was just freaking out about getting flown up to Melbourne.

Dr Travis Taggert, Emergency & ICU Resident, Mildura Base Hospital
We need to keep in mind the cultural considerations of our patients and their families. Mildura, for example, has the second highest Aboriginal population in Victoria. 

Greg Plummer, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Mildura Base Hospital 
The Aboriginal people are very family-orientated and very connected with their land, so, to move from this area would be quite traumatising for the family.

Patient
I was up there on my own for a couple of days. With no one there, your head just constantly thinking the worst. With telehealth, I reckon it would’ve been better if they did have it there. I would have had family dropping in. It’s good to have that support when you’re going through anything like that, especially if you haven’t dealt with any of that stuff before.

Greg Plummer, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Mildura Base Hospital 
If we can keep them here with a bit of support and advice, through the telemedicine critical care network, then that would be just an absolute bonus. I think telehealth is really exciting. It’s a way of the future for us.