In a Tel Aviv office, a doctor examines the lungs of a Ukrainian refugee who is 12,000 km from his office. An unusual medical visit that is part of a new “virtual hospital” that allows doctors and other nurses to care for people displaced and injured by Russian strikes.
They can screen patients using a range of technological solutions, many developed in Israel, that allow refugees to offer telemedicine screenings, prenatal ultrasounds, blood tests, medical check-ups, sometimes vital, and others.
Doctors are based in Sheba Hospital, Israel’s largest hospital, while patients are based in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. Sheba has sent a doctor and several volunteers to the city, close to the border with Ukraine, to help patients interact with doctors and other professionals within the Jewish state.
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Sheba’s team is part of a delegation sent by United Hatzalah of Israel, an aid organization headquartered in Jerusalem.
“I treat all kinds of people. There are pregnant women, elderly people who suffer from a number of ailments caused by an incredibly stressful long journey to the border, ”comments Professor Gadi Sehgal, head of the internal telemedicine service, Israel Times.
“And there are children and the chronically ill who need extended blood tests. They all receive support from my office in Sheba,” he adds.
He noted that telemedicine has made progress during the coronavirus crisis, adding that “during the pandemic, we have learned how telemedicine can revolutionize traditional medicine, and it is still evolving, allowing us to actually care for refugees here in Israel.”
“Restrictions imposed by geography and distance are lifted. We can make a clinical diagnosis with the highest possible consultation for patients who are in the war zone and even at the front,” he continues.
One of the systems used, Pulsenmore, is a portable prenatal ultrasound device that takes pictures and sends them for analysis to the OB/GYN department in Sheba, Israel.
TytoCare examines the lungs, heart, mouth, ears, skin, temperature and oxygen saturation levels of refugee children, while Biobeat Medical Technologies divisions monitor vital signs and send their monitoring results in real time to remote doctors.
Sarit Lerner, technical manager of Sheba Beyond’s telemedicine program, says her team got to work as soon as the opportunity arose.
“We felt a kind of moral obligation to bring this technology and the experience of Sheba doctors and specialists on the ground to help these refugees,” she says.