Seafarers donate medical robot

The Cayman Islands Seafarers Association have presented “RP Sally”, a telemedical remote presence robot, to the Health Services Authority.

The robot allows doctors on-island and overseas to monitor patients remotely. The device also enables remote access to specialists in the United States at the touch of a button.

“This is a significant contribution to the hospital and it should serve the purpose of actually cutting down on medical needs overseas,” Delano Bush, president of the Seafarers Association, said.

The device, a product of telemedical company InTouch Health, is one of only two telemedical robots in the Caribbean. The other is in Haiti.

Carole Appleyard, head of medical consulting firm Carole Appleyard Consulting Ltd., explained that the robot is designed to facilitate diagnoses without incurring the significant costs, wait times and risks associated with air ambulancing patients to Miami.

“It means a lot less cost, faster diagnostic time for the patient, and immediate access to specialist care, and that is something wonderful for the patient,” Ms Appleyard said.

Mr. Bush said RP Sally is particularly important to the members of the Seafarers Association because of its usefulness in treating stroke patients quickly and effectively.

“We’ve known people that have had a stroke and it takes till the next day to get them to Miami and by that time they’re gone,” he said.

The seafarers chose to name the robot “Sally” after Salacia, goddess of the sea and wife of Neptune in Greek mythology. Every remote presence robot has its own name and licence number.

Dr. Delroy Jefferson, medical director of Health Services, said that RP Sally would enable patients to experience faster treatment times, an essential condition in successfully treating stroke cases.

“Telemedicine breaks down barriers, the barriers of time and distance, so we here can access world-class neurologists in the US,” he said. “They can see our patients, we can have peer-to-peer conversations through the use of this robot.”

Several members of government attended a special dedication ceremony Friday, including Premier Alden McLaughlin and Minister for Health Osbourne Bodden, as well as Dr. Arturo Javier Muslera, director of InTouch Health in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Dr. Nima Mowzoon, CEO of Virtual Neurology.

Dr. Muslera and Dr. Mowzoon led the audience through a demonstration of the robot’s capabilities, linking to a stroke specialist in the US within seconds.

Dr. Muslera explained that the robot is designed to be user-friendly and compatible with multiple platforms.

“Through a computer, through a laptop, through an iPad, the doctor can connect to the patient,” he said. “With this, the idea is that the right care is given to the right patient at the right time.”

The Seafarers Association hopes to facilitate the donation of a smaller telemedical unit, the RP-Xpress Portable, to Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac in the near future.

“Quite a substantive amount of money is spent on airline tickets to and from Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman via Cayman Brac, to Grand Cayman for consultations,” Ms Appleyard said, explaining that the hand-held unit would allow doctors in Grand Cayman to diagnose patients in the Sister Islands remotely.

Not only did the Seafarers Association donate the remote presence equipment, the organisation also paid for four doctors to be trained in the specialised technology.

Dr. Jefferson flew to the InTouch facility in Santa Barbara, California, to receive his training. Another set of local doctors were trained to use the device in-house.

“We had a specialised team from Santa Barbara come down and provide clinical training to three of the other doctors that will be using the remote presence system,” Ms Appleyard said. “We tested it at the hospital for an entire week, we did rounds with it, and the patients thought that was wonderful.”

The robot allows doctors on-island and overseas to monitor patients remotely.

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