A meeting with Medellin Rural Health Unit Staff on the ReachHealth teleconsultation program was held on January 7, 2021 at the Municipal Social Hall, Medellin.
There were three staff members of the Rural Health Unit of Medellin who joined the meeting. They included MHO Dr. Oliver Gimenez, Nurse Donna Son, and Nurse Arles Aman.
As a background, the ReachHealth Project has established a teleconsultation program with Cebu Provincial Hospital – Bogo City and Tabuelan Rural Health Unit. Patients who cannot personally go to the rural health units of their municipalities can use their cell phones in order to contact medical personnel in the two health facilities and avail of medical consultation and health services by digital technology. The program aims to link the teleconsultation program with the rural health units of Medellin and San Remigio and the city health office of Bogo City in order to have their staff disseminate such program to their barangay health stations and residents.
The meeting presented the teleconsultation program to the Rural Health Unit Staff of Medellin in order for them to disseminate it to their constituents and to gather their feedbacks.
The VPHCS staff through Dr. Erlinda Posadas, Edgar Gahisan and Irish Grace Ramirez presented the teleconsultation program to the Medellin RHU staff. Dr. Gimenez said that since the pandemic started, their RHU staff had been providing services to their constituents. Although in the early months of the pandemic, there was limited number of patients, as the months progressed, there were more and more patients seeking medical services. They patients said that they were happy that the services have returned to normal. Even those who were living in barangays that were far from the RHU said that traveling to the RHU and checking up personally with the nurses and the MHO was very important for them.
Thus, Dr. Gimenez said that although he appreciates the efforts of ReachHealth Project to institute a teleconsultation program in the Cebu Provincial Hospital – Bogo City and Tabuelan RHU, he said that the people living in areas in Medellin with poor signal or poor internet connectivity cannot make the most of it. This would also pose problems for patients who need to be seen through video calls in order to be properly assessed and they did not have android phones.
Dr. Gimenez also said that he believed that the people in Medellin would want to be seen personally by their MHO in his clinic for their medical concerns rather than have their medical check up through telephone calls. If face to face consultation was possible such as for the people of Medellin and the Medellin Rural Health Unit, there was no need for them to call the doctors in the hospital in Bogo City for their consultation.
Dr. Gimenez preferred actual contact with patients whom he can personally check up and do physical examination in order to arrive at an accurate medical diagnosis and thus correct management. With teleconsultation, the people cannot be accurately assessed which affects the proper management. If the patients needed to be referred to the Bogo City Hospital, he said that the Medellin RHU has already a referral system in place where he makes telephone calls himself to the hospital if they can accept the patient being referred to them. Dr. Gimenez also added that teleconsultation is useful for patients who need to be checked up by specialists who are far away from their municipality and can only be checked up by teleconsultation, such as specialists in Cebu City.
Dr. Gimenez said he would use the telephone numbers in the teleconsultation program for referring patients from the Rural Health Unit to the Cebu Provincial Hospital – Bogo City.