S. Orchard, B. Dickson
Rural Communities, such as Haliburton County, often have trouble recruiting physicians and particularly specialists (e.g. psychiatrists). For this reason, we often use virtual appointments through technology such as PCVC and OTN. There are many advantages to these services, such as eliminating transportation barriers and costs associated with travel to appointments. A specific challenge arises when we are using technology for people experiencing their first episodes of psychosis. When people might be paranoid and already suspicious, we have seen clients refuse to be in the room with a camera. At times, the sound quality makes conversation difficult in a person who may already be confused. In our program (i.e. LYNX-Early Psychosis Intervention) maintains two psychiatric clinics a month but have had to make use of alternatives of face-to-face visits with our psychiatrist (i.e. OTN).
Although OTN can be a good option in some cases, we have worked to develop community partnerships to help fill the gap when problems arise. Some examples of this include workings more closely with family physicians or accessing psychiatry through the Youth Hub. That being said, we remain in search of sufficient alternatives to direct contact between our clients and psychiatrists.