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First of its Kind Virtual Health Hub to Enhance Rural and Remote Healthcare

Released on May 23, 2024

An Indigenous-led Virtual Health Hub is being planned on Whitecap Dakota First Nation land south of Saskatoon. The facility will function in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies.

The Virtual Health Hub (VHH), the first in Canada, is a Remote Presence Technology (RPT) initiative that will be supported by the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine - Northern Medical services, and Dr. Ivar Mendez, a pioneer in the utilization of RPT.

The Government of Saskatchewan is providing funding of 1/3 of the total budget for construction of the new facility.

“We are pleased to be contributing to this innovative and groundbreaking facility,” Premier Scott Moe said. “Collaboration between all levels of government with Indigenous communities and other partner organizations ensures that there is continuity in the delivery of health care services between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan.”

Once constructed, the VHH will initially support delivery of virtual health services for up to 30 communities remotely. Robotic ultrasonography will be the initial line of service provided by specialists at the hub with plans to expand services as technology and training come online.

“The Virtual Health Hub will have a positive impact on Canadians,” Whitecap Dakota First Nation Chief Darcy Bear said. “Providing efficient and effective healthcare services through our public health system to First Nation and rural communities.”

At the hub, classes of approximately 12 students at a time will train and learn the skills to deliver services using advanced virtual care technologies. Once training is complete, the graduates will be able to set up these technologies in rural and remote communities across the province and assist patients with their appointments, while clinicians and technologists at the hub location perform the services remotely.

“A core strategic goal of the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) is to advance an innovation agenda for our learners,” SIIT President and CEO Riel Bellegarde said. “The new generation of Indigenous healthcare workers is vital to improve healthcare for Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan and the rest of Canada.”

The Virtual Health Hub will improve outcomes for all Saskatchewan citizens, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, while creating employment opportunities for residents in their home communities. The ability to provide services virtually will also decrease the need for travel for residents and lessen the demand on services in regional and urban centres.

"Virtual Health Hub will bring state-of-the-art virtual care technologies to provide healthcare to the most underserved populations in Saskatchewan,”  Virtual Health Hub Director Dr. Mendez said. “This unique and highly innovative facility will bring Saskatchewan to the leadership of virtual healthcare delivery in Canada and globally."

The Government of Saskatchewan is pleased to support initiatives, like the VHH that ensure residents are receiving the care they need as close to home as possible. The province looks forward to the project developing under the leadership of Chief Darcy Bear, Dr. Ivar Mendez and Riel Bellegarde.


For more information, contact:

Media Relations
Phone: 306-787-4083

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