Donors help to establish Pohnpei’s first telemedicine center at Pohnpei State Hospital

By Bill Jaynes, The Kaselehlie Press December 16, 2016 Pohnpei, FSM—

The Pohnpei State Hospital today held a short and small ceremony to open its new telemedicine unit at the hospital. The telemedicine service will allow for consultation with experts through the Pacific Basin Telehealth Resouce Center at the University of Hawaii Manoa Medical Center. The service will help to eliminate some of the current need for expensive medical referrals. It could also allow for quicker access to medical treatment than might currently be available in Pohnpei. Dr. Payne Perman, who spearheaded the efforts to get telemedicine to Pohnpei said that the teleconferencing system relies on VDSL technology which provides 10 Mbps data transmission for crystal clear video and audio simultaneous transmission. Indeed, talking with an expert at UH Manoa over the system was like having a conversation with her in the same room.

Perman said that VDSL service usually costs $5000 per month but that FSM Telecommunications Corporation had managed to provide them a VERY special deal of only $400 a month for the service. The Leo Etscheit Foundation has agreed to pay that monthly fee. Mahi International provided most of the electronic equipment needed to get the system hooked up. FSM’s Department of Health provided the special camera at a cost of $2000 that the system uses. Perman said that the system is stand alone and is only accessible within the small room that services at the telemedicine center. In addition to the possible savings in medical referrals, Perman said that it could also be used to reduce travel costs for conferences. Governor Marcelo Peterson said that his Christmas is shaping up nicely, not only with the opening of the telemedicine center but also with word he had received that morning that Pohnpei State’s dividend in Caroline Fisheries Corporation will be $400,000 this year . After ceremony, Pohnpei’s telemedicine had its first consult using the new facility with two consultations with Shriners Hospital for Children. Dr. Craig Ono from Shriners Hospital for Children in Honolulu was able to see two of his former patients in Pohnpei by video teleconferencing without expensive referral.