One minute, a young mother was describing her struggles trying to manage her 2-year-old son’s diabetes after Hurricane Maria, recalls Nancy Pagan, a physician assistant and member of NewYork-Presbyterian’s Disaster Response Team in Puerto Rico.
And the next minute?
Pagan was consulting with leading specialists in New York about the boy’s care via videoconferencing. Thanks to the launch of a peer-to-peer telemedicine service in Puerto Rico during the time that NewYork-Presbyterian’s team was on the island, patients at a federal medical shelter in Manatí had access to specialists from Weill Cornell Medicine and ColumbiaDoctors through NewYork-Presbyterian’s telehealth service, NYP OnDemand.
“It was wonderful to be able to use telemedicine in Puerto Rico,” says Pagan. “It was a very good feeling to be able to have backup like that in a disaster situation.”
All Pagan had to do was send a text to the doctors and call them up on her computer.
“Once we made the connection, the video worked, the audio worked, and I was speaking to Nancy within a matter of moments,” says Dr. Shari Platt, chief of pediatric emergency medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital and associate professor at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Dr. Platt conducted the telemedicine consultation with Dr. Zoltan Antal, chief of pediatric endocrinology at Komansky Children’s Hospital.
“The beauty of it was that we were able to see the child,” says Dr. Platt. “He was in the background playing and happy. We were able to see that there were no visible complications from diabetes, and we were able to find out what doses of insulin he was on, what his diet had been like, and why he had been running such high sugars.”