LifeLabs partners with UBC on Drone Transport Initiative to support access to essential health services for BC First Nations communities

·5 min read

Burnaby, British Columbia, Jan. 24, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- LifeLabs is pleased to share it has partnered with the Stellat’en First Nation, Village of Fraser Lake, the First Nations Health Authority (FHNA), the Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc), University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) in a study investigating how drone technology can be used to improve health care for rural and remote First Nations communities.

“This type of project here is unique. As a Native community, we’re at the forefront of the technology,” says Chief Robert Michell of Stellat’en First Nation. “It would be amazing in 10 years’ time to see where this goes. This is definitely a first step, and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

“We’re proud to support such an important initiative that will help provide greater access to essential health care services for First Nations communities,” said Charles Brown, President and CEO of LifeLabs. “New technologies such as drones can present opportunities to deliver health services closer to home, improving accessibility to certain medical support for people in remote and rural communities.”

The Drone Transport Initiative (DTI) is nearing completion of its first phase of testing drone flights carrying supplies and mock samples between Stellat’en First Nations and Fraser Lake, so that eventually real test samples can reach testing laboratories in a timely manner.

Many rural and remote First Nations communities have unequal access to health care due to factors such as transportation constraints and challenges with recruiting and retaining health care providers. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many of these accessibility issues, especially with regards to transportation and testing of patient samples.

“Technology can be a game-changer and transform access and delivery for citizens who live in these communities. That’s not going to happen overnight—there’s going to be a lot of hard work over many years to continue to refine what we understand to be possible with this technology,” says Dr. John Pawlovich, Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health. “The Drone Transport Initiative is our opportunity to start that journey with drone technology. The initiative cannot be done without the leadership and partnership of the two communities.”

Through this partnership, LifeLabs is also contributing to the development of standard operating procedures and ensuring an end-to-end solution by participating in data evaluations, sample logistics, and training. What's more, this will support important community engagement efforts with Stellat’en First Nation, which will assist in identifying lessons learned and factors supportive of cultural safety and humility in our planning, implementation, and engagement practices.

LifeLabs is proud to support the Drone Transport Initiative, which will help advance our knowledge for the future use of drone technology to transport clinical materials and samples for lab testing. It will also enable improved delivery times of essential supplies to remote locations to positively impact health outcomes.

The DTI initiative’s drone technology and service are provided by Drone Delivery Canada (DDC), and funding is provided through a grant from the TD Ready Challenge.

About LifeLabs

LifeLabs is Canada’s leader in laboratory diagnostic information and health connectivity solutions, leveraging innovative and personalized digital tools that empower customers to live their best life. Our dedicated and talented team of 6,000 employees supports 20 million lab visits and conducts over 100 million laboratory tests annually. LifeLabs is 100% Canadian-owned by OMERS Infrastructure, the infrastructure investment manager of one of Canada’s largest defined benefit pension plans. Learn more at www.lifelabs.com

About Stellat’en First Nation

The Stellat’en First Nation (No. 613), has its main office located on the Stellat’en Reserve on the banks of the Nadleh Bun (Fraser Lake) near Fort Fraser. The community of Stellako is located 160 kilometres west of Prince George, B.C. Stellat’en (people of Stella) has existed since time immemorial. The fertile land between Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof is the basin of a glacial Lake. Stellaquo is located at the confluence of two rivers: the Stellaquo and Endako. Stellaquo River is a world-renowned trout fishing location.

For more information, please see: https://www.stellaten.ca

About Village of Fraser Lake

For more information, please see: https://www.fraserlake.ca

About UBC’s Faculty of Medicine

Ranked among the world’s top medical schools with the fifth-largest MD enrollment in North America, the UBC Faculty of Medicine is a leader in both the science and the practice of medicine. Guided by our vision—to transform health for everyone—our faculty members, learners, staff and alumni are accelerating discovery and creating pathways to better health for communities at home and around the world. Through collaboration with our partners, we strive to meet the demands of today and tomorrow, bringing real and lasting hope to people everywhere. Learn more at med.ubc.ca

For more information about UBC’s Drone Transport Initiative, please see: https://www.med.ubc.ca/giving/community-partners-celebrate-launch-of-drone-transport-initiative/

About UBC’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Founded in 1946, the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UBC enjoys an international reputation in pharmacy education, innovation in pharmacy practice, and research in the pharmaceutical sciences. Each year, we educate close to 900 undergraduate students and train more than 50 graduate students. Our alumni, numbering close to 6,000, have established themselves as successful pharmacists, scientists, teachers, entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators the world over. Learn more at: https://pharmsci.ubc.ca/

About Drone Delivery Canada Corp.

Drone Delivery Canada Corp. is an ISO 9001 certified, award-winning drone technology company focused on the design, development, and implementation of its proprietary logistics software platform, using drones. The Company’s platform is used as a Software as a Service (SaaS) model for government and corporate organizations globally.

Drone Delivery Canada Corp. is a publicly listed company trading on the TSX.V Exchange under the symbol FLT, on the U.S. OTC QX market under the symbol TAKOF and on the Frankfurt exchange in Germany under the symbol A2AMGZ or ABB.F.

CONTACT: Media Team LifeLabs Media@lifelabs.com Brett Goldhawk, Communications and Media Relations Manager UBC Faculty of Medicine 778-952-7858 brett.goldhawk@ubc.ca Mr. Nelson Hudes Hudes Communications International - for Drone Delivery Canada (905) 660-9155 nelson@hudescommunications.com