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A legacy is born

Max House, centre, and other key players are featured in Going The Distance.

 

By Courtenay Alcock and Sharon Gray

For four decades, Memorial University has increasingly provided access to its health and education resources to those outside of the province's capital city. A new legacy video, titled Going the Distance, featuring Dr. Max House and other key players, tells the story of how Memorial became a pioneer and leader in delivering these resources at a distance.

The geography of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the number of rural and remote communities within it, has always proven to be a challenge when it came to delivering critical and timely health care, as well as educational opportunities. To deal with these challenges, proficiency with all types of information and communication systems led to the establishment of a province-wide teleconference system under the auspices of the Tele-health and Educational Resource Agency (TETRA).

Although most initial activity was health related, educational activities began to play an increasingly important role. An early partnership between the Educational Television division and the Division of Continuing Education saw the beginning of something big.

"I was responsible for continuing medical education at the time, and we were thinking about how we could improve its delivery," said Dr. Max House, professor emeritus and honorary research professor of the eHealth Research Unit at Memorial's Faculty of Medicine. "It was by chance that our office was located next to Educational Television, but the partnership that followed was the building block to the way that education and health services have evolved in our province."

The video, an extension of a presentation that was given during Reunion 2012, weaves the story of early developments in telemedicine followed by the partnership with continuing education and the evolution that took place as the partners worked together to achieve their common goals.

"Thanks to the collective efforts of these pioneers, and to Memorial's mandate to serve all citizens of the province, DELTS has achieved its place in the institution and in this province," said Susan Cleyle, director of Distance Education, Learning and Teaching Support (DELTS). "This video tells an important story about Memorial's history, and how the common goals of two groups turned into something significant that has stood, and will continue to stand, the test of time."

The work by Dr. House and his team in the early years established fundamental methodologies of how care givers and educators needed to interact with patients and students alike so that it was seamless, despite the distance between them. Today, projects in areas such as tele-oncology continue the telemedicine activities that were pioneered at Memorial.

Although the technologies have changed over time, the methodologies established in the early days are still adopted and used today in this province, as well as nationally and internationally.

The video, which was produced by DELTS, is available at www.delts.mun.ca.

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