HumanInsight Surgical, trauma and telehealth capacity in Indigenous communities in Northern Quebec: a cross-sectional survey
Can J Surg. 2023 Nov 28;66(6):E572-E579. doi: 10.1503/cjs.013822. Print 2023 Nov-Dec.
BACKGROUND: Delivering trauma and surgical care to Northern Quebec presents unique challenges owing to the region's remoteness, extreme weather and limited transport; the expansion of telehealth could help address these difficulties. We aimed to evaluate current surgical, trauma and telemedicine capacity in Nunavik, Quebec.
METHODS: We used validated assessment tools, including the Personnel, Infrastructure, Procedures, Equipment and Supplies survey, the International Assessment of Capacity for Trauma index and the Maryland Health Care Commission Telemedicine Readiness tool to evaluate surgical, trauma and telemedicine capacity, respectively. We adapted these tools to the Northern Quebec context through discussions with local leadership. Data were collected in 2 regional hospitals - the Ungava Tulattavik Health Centre (UTHC) and the Inuulitsivik Health Centre (IHC) - and 12 Centres locaux de services communautaires (CLSCs; local community services centres) in 6 villages along the Hudson Bay coast and 6 villages along the Ungava Bay coast through iterative discussions with 4 chief nurses from each regional hospital and set of CLSCs; resources were confirmed through on-site evaluation by the respondents. We performed a descriptive analysis of the data.
RESULTS: Surgical capacity was highest in the IHC (6.76) and lowest in the Ungava Bay CLSCs (5.52). Personnel (0%-0%) and procedures (13%-33%) were the least available resources. Trauma capacity was highest in the IHC (7.25) and lowest in the Hudson Bay CLSCs (5.58). Although equipment (90%-100%) and supplies (100%-100%) were readily available, personnel (0%-0%) and procedures (25%-56%) were lacking. The UTHC was most prepared for telehealth (67.80%), and the Ungava Bay CLSCs achieved a lower score (51.13%). Underdeveloped telehealth criteria included funding, administrative support, quality improvement and physical spaces (all 33%-67%).
CONCLUSION: Acute care capacity in Nunavik appears heterogeneous, with readily available equipment and supplies, but a lack of personnel capable of performing lifesaving procedures. To address the need for telemedicine, future initiatives should focus on improving funding, administrative support, physical spaces and quality-improvement initiatives.
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