A British Columbia family learned recently that WelTel’s text-first patient-centered engagement platform really does ensure that no one is left behind – even when they’re on the other side of the world.
“With WelTel, you have the peace of mind knowing that the person you need to be in contact with is right there, just a text away, with the information you need right when you need it,” said Sabrina Barba, who was travelling in Australia in the spring of 2022 with her spouse Simon and three-year-old daughter Billie, who became seriously ill with cold and flu symptoms.
While a minor illness would not be cause for alarm in a perfectly healthy child, Billie has a heart condition that requires regular monitoring by the cardiology team at B.C. Children’s Hospital (BCCH) in Vancouver. If not treated properly, common symptoms such as fever, vomiting and dehydration could be life threatening.
When she was a week old, Billie was diagnosed with left ventricular non-compaction (LVNC), a form of cardiomyopathy that occurs when the lower left chamber of the heart doesn’t develop properly, affecting its ability to pump blood. After an extended stay in hospital and a couple months of care, Billie’s cardiology specialist, Dr. Katey Armstrong, recommended that the family enroll in a BCCH pilot project that uses WelTel’s digital communication platform leveraging 2-way texting to connect caregivers with parents of young children with complex medical conditions.
Raising a child with complex medical needs is daunting under any circumstances — even more so when you live far from specialized care, said Dr. Katey. Billie’s family lives in Revelstoke, about seven hours’ drive from Vancouver.
“Two-way, open natural language texting with WelTel is a proven way to provide parents with the support and encouragement they need, especially in those first weeks and months following what can be a shocking diagnosis,” Dr. Katey said. “It also helps families overcome geographic barriers, providing aconnection with their regular caregivers so they can share their specific concerns, ask questions, or report changes in their child’s condition between regular appointments.”
It’s during those in-between times that WelTel shines, Sabrina said.
When Billie became ill Down Under, the family was nearing the end of a five-week holiday where she met her Australian relatives for the first time. Using WelTel, Sabrina was able to instantly connect with the on-call cardio team at BCCH who recommended getting Billie admitted to the local hospital. She was also able to reach out directly to Dr. Katey.
“Right away she reassured me that everything would be ok,” Sabrina said. Dr. Katey was also able to share important information about Billie’s condition with doctors in Merimbula, New South Wales, a small coastal town about halfway between Sydney and Melbourne.
Thanks to the power of WelTel, a virtual health-care team spanning multiple time zones and the international date line was able to stabilize Billie’s condition to the point that she was well enough to travel to Sydney and manage the 15-hour flight to Vancouver and eventually home to Revelstoke.
“It’s pretty incredible to me that all that can happen starting with a simple text,” Sabrina said.