When tropical Cyclone Cook loomed in April 2017, schools and roads were closed and the Coromandel Peninsula was declared to be in a state of emergency. Community mental health nurse Dana Nash hunkered down at home with her family and got to work on her iPad.
Dana knows the critical importance of staying in touch with her patients. Based in Whitianga, her caseload includes home visits with vulnerable people experiencing a range of mental health concerns. Some were feeling suicidal and had a safety plan in place to help keep them safe.
Dana had recently received training and an iPad to get started using SmartHealth, Waikato DHB’s new service that connects patients and healthcare professionals across the region by video, voice and text link.
“During the storm I really put it to good use,” says Dana. “Because of all the closures, I had to be at home with my family. But I also had people to take care of. I was able to sit on the couch and continue on with my day. I checked in with everyone on my list by phone, talked through all the things we’d usually talk about face to face, and entered patient notes.”
Dana says that having the chance to talk things through with someone they already knew was a big deal for her patients, who said it made a huge difference to their day.
Without the ability to do her work remotely, Dana’s caseload would have been passed to a colleague to pick up. Her patients would have been contacted, but the nuances of their situation may have been missed by someone who didn’t know them so well.
“Only a small percentage of my patients have signed up for SmartHealth right now, but I’ve been leaving SmartHealth brochures behind when I visit and talking to them about it. After Cyclone Cook I told them, if you were signed up, I could have talked to you by video that day and it would have been even better. People just need to understand what it means for them personally.”
“As a clinician, SmartHealth gives me options. More importantly, it gives my patients continuity of care. It’s about people getting the care they need, when they need it, and I’m right behind it.”