Virtual Care Thrives

A strategic partnership between the Far West Local Health District (FWLHD) and the Sydney Local Health District (SLHD) has strengthened over the last financial year. Developments have included the successful introduction of different services benefiting patient care in the Far West.

The collaboration between the two LHDs has enriched the knowledge and expertise of both healthcare teams. Several staff members from each LHD have visited the other to gain first-hand insights into different facilities and practices. This collaboration is now extending into other areas of care across the district.

The Virtual Intensive Care Unit (vICU) celebrated its first anniversary in operation. It has enabled patients to access world-class critical care through a partnership with the Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital in Sydney.

“The virtual ICU is probably the big-ticket item that everybody knows about, but that has allowed us to keep people in Broken Hill in ICU who would have previously been airlifted out to Adelaide,” said FWLHD Chief Executive Brad Astill.

“For them and their families, that’s a really significant thing. If you think of the burden on their families travelling to Adelaide for a long period, it’s a huge undertaking. So it has allowed them to stay in Broken Hill.”

Launched in April, the RPA Virtual Fracture Clinic provides necessary follow-up care for patients who present with specific uncomplicated fractures at the Broken Hill Emergency Department (ED). Patients can be referred to the clinic by their attending ED clinician.

Under this model, an RPA virtual physiotherapist reaches out to the patient at home, offering critical support and creating a tailored management plan for their injury. The convenience of remote consultations and check-ups is designed to focus on providing the most suitable form of care in the most appropriate setting.

“Some other programmes are about providing support and advice, and offering a friend at the end of the line in Sydney that our clinicians can ring to discuss cases with,” Mr Astill continued.

“It gives our staff a sense that they have someone to talk to, which is probably the big thing. It also means that our patients can stay here; they don’t have to be airlifted all the time. The virtual fracture clinics are a good example. Patients can have their consultations from their own homes, so they don’t have to come to the hospital.”


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