The use of telehealth to provide and improve access to health services and assessments across distances continues to grow around the world, including within VCH-Coastal – and in Scotland as seen in this photo. (Photo credit Scottish Centre for Telehealth and Telecare/Simon Price)

TIDES rolling in for rehab patients in Coastal’s rural/remote communities

For residents living in rural and remote areas, accessing allied health services (physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists) can be a significant challenge.

To expand patient access to these services and better support staff, VCH-Coastal recently is launching an innovative new care model that leverages technology to deliver health virtually. It’s called TIDES Rehab (Telehealth Innovation Deployment Education and Sustainment).

TIDES Rehab will be based in Sechelt and serve the Sunshine Coast, Powell River, Sea to Sky corridor, Bella Bella and Bella Coola. The delivery model will follow the successful Intensive Rehabilitation Outpatient Program (IROP) in place at Lions Gate Hospital. In fact, TIDES Rehab will be the rural/remote branch of IROP.

“TIDES Rehab is essentially the creation of a hub of allied health professionals (AHPs),” says Marina McBride, Rural Leader, Coastal. “There will be one physiotherapist, one occupational therapist and one speech language pathologist.”

Bella Coola gets new PT

The program is already off to a good start in the Central Coast. Bella Coola recently hired a new physiotherapist. Freeman Qu first visited the Central Coast community in 2007 and both he and his wife fell in love with the place. Freeman previously worked in Northern Health as the Chief Physiotherapist and Rehab Manager.

He’s excited about the implementation of TIDES Rehab, which recently got a boost from the Bella Coola Hospital Auxiliary. It generously donated $5,500 to purchase physiotherapy equipment.

Bella Coola physiotherapist Freeman Qu.

Bella Coola physiotherapist Freeman Qu.

“This will significantly improve the quality of care we provide to our patients and residents,” says Freeman. “Specifically, the new equipment will help improve the safety and effectiveness of patient mobilization, as well as the treatment and prevention of pressure ulcers that are related to prolonged bed rest and wheelchair use. We are very grateful to the auxiliary for their generosity.”

Freeman splits his time between the hospital and community clinic, and TIDES Rehab for the Central Coast.

“Physiotherapy and rehab services are lacking significantly in small and remote communities so this is a great step forward,” he says.

Closer to home

A key goal of this initiative is to provide patients with services closer to home, which will save travel time and costs.

“It will also help those patients in urban acute care settings to return to their own community faster, which should prevent further hospital admissions,” says Marina.

Referral Process

Referral to the TIDES program will be through the IROP referral form/program. This team will also see rural and remote patient/clients from Lions Gate’s Neurological Rehabilitation Outpatient Program (NROP).

What’s next?

Want to be part of this specialty team? If you’re an allied health professional interested in learning more about this one-of-a-kind rural/remote/urban program, contact Marina McBride. Job postings can be viewed at



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