Thanks to advanced technology and a new telemedicine program between Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, some of the most fragile infants now have access to highly specialized genetic services, making it possible for more families to receive care closer to home.
“The ability to have our neonates seen by a pediatric geneticist without moving them – even an inch – is just amazing,” says Kathy Bridge-Liles, Chief Administrative Officer of Golisano Children’s Hospital. “A 15-minute remote consult provides care quicker and saves an entire family the inconvenience of traveling to Miami for specialty services. It is an amazing accomplishment and the result of working together to bring the best care possible to our young patients. I am so proud to be part of this incredible team.”
Lee Memorial Health System has developed its own portable telemedicine device which can be moved from room to room. Physicians from Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami communicate with local physicians about the patient’s care through a secure technology with the advantage of incredibly precise optics. The remote physician can view the patient and see conditions and illnesses close-up, giving them a more detailed perspective than the natural eye can see alone.
Golisano Children’s Hospital physicians are using the telemedicine services in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for genetics and metabolic disease consultation.
“Telemedicine is an example of how technology can benefit people by bringing them closer together,” says William Binder, M.D., neonatologist with Pediatrix Medical Group of Florida who cares for patients of Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. “It allows the off-site specialist in Miami to come to the bedside, examine a patient and discuss his or her assessment and plan, with care providers and families in a virtual way. It is really very similar to having the specialist in the hospital.”
Narendra Kini, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Miami Children’s Health System, parent organization of Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, said, “Nicklaus Children’s has made a significant commitment to telehealth technology as a way to share the expertise of our renowned pediatric subspecialists. We are pleased to support families of newborns in Southwest Florida in accessing our genetic and metabolic disorders team. Our commitment is to be where the children are, and our telehealth program enhances our care reach, enabling us to make a difference for families in neighboring communities and around the world.”
This type of telemedicine application is a way to bring major-city services to less urban areas. This specialty is particularly well-suited to this application because pediatric geneticists are a rare specialty, and their practices require high population-to-specialist ratios.
Jonathan Witenko, Sr. Business Systems Analyst, Project Manager for Lee Memorial Health System, played a major role in the creation of the telemedicine device. Subsequently, his own daughter required a neurological telemedicine consult, and couldn’t be more grateful for the collaboration with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
“I know personally the massive efforts that were involved in providing this service,” says Witenko. “To see my own daughter’s care expedited and enhanced by the efforts of so many was an incredible experience and I’m thankful to be a part of a system that truly cares.”
“This is a perfect example of combining technology and human collaboration to extend the reach of top-notch specialty care to all of the children of Southwest Florida,” Binder says. “Golisano Children’s Hospital is demonstrating their commitment to the total care of the children of Southwest Florida through this high-tech collaboration with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.”
“This is the door to our future,” says Bridge-Liles.