New telemedicine program links Haitian physicians to Miami trauma specialists

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Trauma specialists at the University of Miami recently launched a telemedicine program providing medical support to a major hospital in Haiti. The program gives Haitian physicians around-the-clock access to consultation on difficult injury cases.

The new program links trauma and critical care experts at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine to physicians at Hospital Bernard Mevs in Port-au-Prince, according to a university press release. Bernard Mevs is Haiti’s only trauma, critical care and rehabilitation hospital. The facility treats a high volume of injured patients, but not all physicians on staff are specialists in trauma or intensive care.

“Our mission is to support the hospital when they have critical care cases that require a higher level of expertise,” said Carl Schulman, MD, PhD, a trauma surgeon at Miami’s Ryder Trauma Center.

Virtual consultation, a click away
Webcam consultations take place via a high-definition video conferencing system. Weekday meetings involve physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and medical students, according to a Sun-Sentinel report. A key member of the team is Antonia Eyssallenne, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics who is fluent in Haitian Creole.

The webcam system allows the Miami team to talk to their counterparts in Haiti, examine patients, and view imaging studies. The U.S. trauma specialists help diagnose more difficult injuries, assist with trauma stabilizations and provide guidance on long-term care, according to the university press release. The telemedicine team is also able to assist with regular critical care rounds.

“This project breaks down obstacles to patients receiving adequate care and will help further educate Haitian doctors in trauma and critical care,” Schulman said.

Both Schulman and Eyssallenne were among first responders to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which occurred five years ago this week.