K-NET; It is all about PEOPLE!!
Dorthy Kakepetum , Community |
Keewaywin First Nation,
demonstrates video telhealth
conferencing to community elder.
K-NET; It is all about PEOPLE!!"Once we saw what telehealth services could do for our community, it just became a question of how we were going to get them."
There are six First Nations Communities in the northern section of Northern Ontario who five years ago operated in a reality where:
o a phone call was something that you lined up for, for an hour, in order to make;
o a secondary school education was something you needed to leave home to obtain; and
o medical attention was something that was either flown in for you or something that you were flown out to receive.
Now, five years later a new reality is emerging:
o a phone call is something you make over high speed Internet but only if you can't get easy access to the community videoconferencing facility;
o a high school education is something that you deliver to your own community using resources shared with your neighbours over the Internet; and
o medical attention is something that you attend the local telehealth facility in order to receive.
An amazing energy was required to create this First Nations revolution.. This energy was generated by a belief, held in absolute certainty that IP based telehealth and education services held the power to make their communities whole again.
"Our epiphany occurred in 1998", explained Geordi Kakepetum, Executive Director Keewaytinook Okimakanak, "the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Chiefs Council were visiting Ottawa when we observed an Ottawa Heart Institute physician examining a patient in the North West Territories. With almost a half a continent in between the patient and the physician, we knew at that moment, that we needed telehealth services to solve the health care problems in our communities. It just became a question of how we were going to get them."
"It started then as the vision of our leaders," says Geordi, "but we followed up immediately with a process of gaining grass roots support that eventually made it possible to engage the funders and others to work with Keewaytinook Okimakanak.”
Support for the first layer, the physical communications layer,
came from a number of sources including Bell, Cisco, INAC and others but mostly it came from FedNor. Carl Seibel, Telecom Officer with FedNor, explained that, “K-Net was initiated by a small core of community champions who were focused on achieving results but who were not concerned about who got the credit. This core group proceeded to build relationships with dozens of organizations and to build acceptance for the new technology within their communities. Today they are growing organically, each community is teaching their neighbours how to build networks, and how to obtain the funding necessary to proceed. This works well for FedNor because it reduces our risk and leaves each new community empowered to facilitate the improvement of their own healthcare and educational services.”
FedNor has also helped get the communities started in building the application layers. It was FedNor's support and confidence in the KNET team that encouraged Health Canada to enter into agreements to help develop the telehealth applications on top of the network.
To date there are 12 remote First Nations equipped with Telehealth carts (12 more by December 2004) and the connectivity required to service them. The Telehealth cart itself consists of videoconferencing equipment plus an otoscope, a stethoscope, and a patient exam camera. This equipment allows the telehealth coordinators in First Nation communities to connect to nurses, community doctors, or specialists anywhere in Ontario, ar the world! More than 35 different types of medical specialists have been accessed by the communities through the use of this equipment.
For more information about KNET and KNET services you can visit one or more of their collection of comprehensive web portals.
* Telehealth Services - http://telehealth.knet.ca
* Internet High School - http://kihs.knet.ca/
* Community Services and language support - http://www.knet.ca
* Technical Services and Support - http://services.knet.ca/
"KNET and KO have achieved what telehealth has always intended to accomplish, namely: 'Telehealth forces the development of seamless health care services for clients, and builds partnerships in program among various levels of governments working in remote communities' ".
Ernie Dal Grande