Dr Keisha Gangaram, PCPII

The North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) says it continues to deliver critical care to chronic disease patients, particularly those with comorbidities by expanding its Tele-medicine Program to reach more than 1,000 patients every week throughout its primary healthcare system.

The following is a press release from the NCRHA:

The NCRHA continues to deliver critical care to our chronic disease patients, particularly those with comorbidities that put them at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, by expanding its Tele-medicine Program to reach more than 1,000 patients every week throughout its primary healthcare system.

The NCRHA’s Primary Care Tele-medicine Program was initially adopted last February during the first wave of COVID-19 infections said General Manager, Primary Care Services, Dr. Abdul Hamid. He said primary care doctors who normally deliver care in the health centers, would call patients on the phone prior to their clinic dates to identify those who had uncontrolled diabetes or compromised immune systems.

He said these conditions put these patients at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 during interactions with the public, during commute or while gathering in public spaces. The expanded Tele-medicine Program will significantly reduce this risk. Dr Hamid said the pilot was initially launched at the Arima Enhanced Health Facility and has since been expanded to other Chronic Diseases Clinics at all NCRHA’s Health Centers and primary healthcare facilities.

We have also had occasions when making calls, that we identified crisis situations for our patients. In those situations, we were able to send an ambulance for these critical patients who needed urgent attention and life-saving care in the emergency room, he added.

Dr Hamid said the authority has also developed a system where patients who need to renew their prescriptions can send a relative who is not in the COVID-19 high risk group, with their clinic and identification card to collect their prescription and medication from the pharmacy. The Tele-medicine Program also allows doctors to record the patient as present for their clinic appointment, when a relative presents the clinic card to collect their prescriptions. This adds to the level of compliance and general health of our patients as we work within the new normal presented by COVID-19, added Dr. Hamid.

This program helps to address the needs of an important group of patients whose chronic situation would continue to deteriorate if they are unable to get timely care from our doctors, who can monitor and take action to prevent their situation from getting worse while their movement is restricted by COVID-19, said Mr. Davlin Thomas, Chief Executive Officer at the NCRHA.

We are committed to supporting the health and wellness of our patients suffering from chronic diseases, so we can mitigate against an increase in the number of critical cases entering the emergency room. We are being proactive about caring for these patients because we don’t want to overwhelm our already burdened staff in the future, he added.

“The Tele-medicine Program creates a new channel to keep our communication with our patients open, so we can deliver much needed medical care, the high level of monitoring and support they need to reassure these patients of our commitment to them, as part of the NCRHA’s response to COVID-19,” said the Chief Executive Officer.