Photo essay: Rural and remote First Nations healthcare in northern BC

Dr. John Pawlovich has provided medical care to remote and rural First Nations community for more than 15 years. At the beginning of his rural practice, he would travel into these isolated hamlets for a few days per month and then return to his home community, waiting until the next month to see his First Nations patients again.

Currently, Pawlovich’s service delivery to rural and remote First Nations communities looks vastly different than it did 15 years ago. He still visits the villages once a month, and sees his patients face-to-face. With the advent of videoconferencing and satellite internet technologies, however, Pawlovich – with the help of a Community Health Representative and local nursing staff – is now able to interact with his patients on a daily basis. Diagnostic tools equipped with cameras and integrated into the videoconferencing system allow him to conduct examinations and evaluate vital signs while he chats with his patient. His rural and remote First Nations patients, who once only could book appointments within a small window of time each month, can now access his services via telehealth from Monday to Friday, between 8 am and 5 pm.

Working with Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS), Pawlovich currently provides primary care services to five northern rural and remote First Nations communities, and supports the Takla Landing emergency room on a 24/7 on-call basis. CSFS piloted this combined telehealth/in-community visit model of care with Pawlovich in 2010, and is now adding more physicians to its roster.

Learn more about CSFS’ services, providers and approach to rural and remote First Nations health care in this video.

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