Most of us have no concept of not being able to see a doctor when we need to. You make an appointment, show up at that time and go right in. In Haiti, this is not the case. Although Hope for Haiti Foundation has Dr. Gabriel as our full-time doctor now, he serves our entire region in Zorangé — which includes both clinics. One doctor, some clinic staff, and nurses…to serve an entire region of people…in an area where people walk several hours just to get to our clinic.
Hope for Haiti Foundation has recently partnered with Cisco Systems and their Telepresence Services division in a project that could bring some exciting technology to Zorangé! Ever heard of telemedicine? Think video chat on steroids. Cisco has very graciously allowed us to take a Cisco TelePresence VX Tactical Unit to our clinic in Haiti to test the feasibility of using this unit there. With this unit, a doctor could do a video call with a nurse in the main clinic, a doctor in a different clinic, or even a medical provider in the United States. So why not just use Skype? The big difference here is that medical devices can be connected to the unit and the data transmitted with the video. This enables Dr. Gabriel to hear a pulse or see a sonogram image without physically having to be there.
This is huge in a region where having to go 5 miles (say, to our clinic in Gandou), could mean a few hours drive. Imagine Dr. Gabriel taking this portable unit to do a house-call in the village and being able to have a conversation with the nurses and send medical data back to the clinic. Hopefully we will see scenarios like this become a reality! This could greatly increase the reach and effectiveness of our medical staff in Haiti.
Our team is going down with a unit to test its network connectivity and will be running some test conversations with staff back here in the US. We are also currently in the process of writing a grant to secure additional units (like the cart unit pictured here, which could be used in more of a clinic type setting). This could be an exciting new initiative for us as we begin this new year!