UWI’s Single Virtual University Space Takes Off With Telemedecine Transmission
The University of the West Indies (UWI) launched its Single Virtual University Space (SVUS) with a telemedicine pilot at the Hugh Wynter Fertility Management Unit (HWFMU) in The University Hospital of the West Indies, Mona.
The first telemedicine broadcast by The UWI was broadcast to medical students and faculty at the Open Campus sites in Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados. The HWFMU has been a hub for the promotion and advancement of Sexual and Reproductive Health for the past 30 years.
Professor E. Nigel Harris, Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, noted that “this is a very special occasion for The UWI as it brings us closer to the vision of a university linked virtually… a seamless environment powered by technology, allowing students around the region to have access to the best teaching and learning resources from all campuses.”
He said that “blended learning is one of the biggest trends in higher education and The UWI is using the SVUS to provide greater opportunities for linkages with institutions in the region and the international community.”
Prof Harris described the pilot as an excellent example of what is possible through the SVUS “demonstrating the capacity of the technology to introduce advances in methods for teaching and research“, and praised Prof Joseph Frederick, Director of the HWFMU for the “vision of the state of the art facility to facilitate medical teaching.”
The telemedicine project at the HWFMU was implemented by Information Technology experts from the University’s Chief Information Office and Mona Information Technology Services. Under the leadership of Brigitte Collins, UWI’s Chief Information Officer, the team formulated a plan for the installation of an internal network of video conferencing solutions to facilitate the delivery of services. Interconnection among the three countries (Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago) was facilitated by the Caribbean Knowledge & Learning Networks; Caribnet Regional Network and local connection was by the National Research & Education Networks in each country.
Pauline Francis-Cobley, SVUS Programme Manager pointed out that the technology will be replicated across disciplines and faculties as The UWI SVUS expands the horizons for students across the region and internationally. Several pilot programmes are being launched under the SVUS in 2013, including a UWI School of Nursing post graduate nursing programme; a Basic Research Skills in Pharmacology online post graduate course offered by the Faculty of Medical Sciences, UIW, Cave Hill; an MSc degree in Development Studies offered by the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social & Economic Studies and a post graduate diploma in Teaching offered by the School of Education, Mona and streamed live to teachers in Montserrat, St. Lucia and Western Jamaica. Other SVUS programmes in Business Administration, Law, Education and Computer Science are planned for the 2013/2014 academic year.
The telecast included presentations on cutting edge services and technological features at the HWFMU. Dr Loxley Christie, HWFMU Research Fellow introduced the recently enhanced integrated operating theatre, making it the only medical facility so configured in the English-speaking Caribbean. He further presented on minimal access surgery.
Two live procedures were performed on a patient for the audiences at the three campus sites in high definition across the network. One was a hysteroscopic evaluation of the uterine cavity and the other, a demonstration of pelvic anatomy, by Dr Sharifa Frederick, Research Fellow and Dr Vernon DaCosta, Consultant, respectively.
Dr Pansy Hamilton, Assistant Director of the HWFMU presented on the non-clinical, sexual and reproductive health issues which encompass matters of human sexuality, sexual rights, sexual health, reproductive rights and reproductive health which are of concern to both males and females in the region. Dr John Harriott, Consultant, gave an enlightening presentation on robotic assisted laparoscopic surgery, one of the technologies the HWFMU intends to utilise moving forward.
Medical students, as well as faculty and representatives from the national research and education networks in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica were all very impressed with the telecast and the capabilities of the technology. For many of the students, this was the first time that they were seeing a demonstration of minimally invasive surgery.