October 10, 2017

RBC Donation Provides Innovative Solution for Youth Mental Health in Northern Saskatchewan

Children in northern Saskatchewan will soon have access to ground breaking mental health care through Remote Presence Technology (RPT). For the first time in Canada, robotic technology will be deployed specifically for youth mental health as a result of a generous $500,000 donation from RBC to Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Kim Ulmer of RBC

The new RPTs will bridge the gap in the delivery of mental health services to children living in remote northern communities, allowing pediatric specialists to perform diagnostics, assessment, and patient management from a location in Saskatoon or Regina. The new units will be deployed in the coming months to communities with the greatest need.

The deployment of remote presence technology, specifically to deliver mental health services, is an important step in addressing the current mental health crisis afflicting northern Saskatchewan youth. While the need is apparent, the missing link has been appropriate funding and support.

“More than ever before, our young people matter. Their success in today’s changing world depends on having the support where and when they need it, to help them build confidence and resilience to thrive,” says Kim Ulmer, Regional President for RBC. “This gift gives testament to RBC’s commitment to helping youth achieve wellness in mind, body and spirit. We are delighted to support this innovative and transformative solution to bring mental health resources to youth in Saskatchewan communities who are in need.”

“To bear witness to the horrific tragedies and pain, to see how deep these traumas run within our youth and most vulnerable, pushes us to strive for equity in access to services at the very least, to build on the strengths and beauty of our peoples, combining the best of both worlds to begin to address the roots of this crisis. Our youth deserve more, yet receive less,” said Dr. Veronica McKinney, Northern Medical Services Director. “Limited resources and personnel combined with distance and remoteness translate to a paucity of mental health services in our northern communities. Remote presence connects various mental health experts with our youth, families and communities, providing a mechanism for collaboration that can have life changing effects.”

First piloted in Saskatchewan in 2013, the RP-Vita Robot was introduced to the province by Dr. Ivar Mendez, Unified Head of Surgery and Fred H. Wigmore Professor of Surgery, who pioneered the technology in Atlantic Canada. The service for acutely ill children using this technology was spear-headed by Pediatric Intensive Care Specialist Dr. Tanya Holt and Northern Medical Services Director Dr. Veronica McKinney.

“This technology is aimed at eliminating barriers of distance and time for health care access by rural and remote communities where the need is the greatest,” says Dr. Ivar Mendez. “Saskatchewan is a leader in the utilization of Remote Presence Medical Robotic Technology aimed at improving access and outcomes.”

“It is critical that we continue to expand the remote presence program in Saskatchewan in order to narrow the gap in health care access for remote communities,” explains Dr. Tanya Holt. “Incorporating new sites and service lines such as youth mental health is a crucial and exciting next step. RBC’s extraordinary donation will make a pivotal difference in fulfilling these goals.”

“Today is World Mental Health Day and RBC has recognized how vital it is to provide continuous youth mental health care to children and teens in remote and in this case, northern Saskatchewan with ground breaking technology infused with a personal approach from our provincial healthcare professionals,” says Brynn Boback-Lane, President and CEO of Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. “While we continue to raise funds for Saskatchewan’s Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, the pioneering use of remote presence technology for youth mental health is laying the groundwork for our new hospital to care for children from every corner of Saskatchewan,”


Royal Bank of Canada is Canada’s largest bank, and one of the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalization. We are one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies, and provide personal and commercial banking, wealth management, insurance, investor services and capital markets products and services on a global basis. We have approximately 81,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 16 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 35 other countries. For more information, please visit rbc.com.


Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation is dedicated to raising funds for the enhancement of maternal and children’s healthcare and is the only charitable organization fundraising for the new Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital. In addition to raising a minimum of $75 million for the “We Can’t Wait” capital campaign, we grant over $1 million annually for urgent maternal and pediatric needs. We are the sole Saskatchewan member of Children’s Miracle Network, one of North America’s leading children’s charities. Learn more at pattisonchildrens.ca.



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