Visitors have been banned at Northumberland Hills Hospital (NHH) now for some time and although seemingly effective in fighting the pandemic it causes a lot of heartache for loved ones as well as those stuck in a hospital bed. But if people in offices and at home can have virtual contact with others, why not in the Hospital? It started as a trial with 50 participants but will now expand to all inpatients thanks to the donation of eight ipads by Grafton & Community Sports and Events Committee and an anonymous couple. The technology used is Microsoft Teams and if you need help setting up your computer a member of NHH’s Virtual Visiting Team will be happy to work through the set up with you prior to your Virtual Connection.
Virtual visits require an appointment and are available Monday to Friday. To organize a virtual visit contact the hospital’s Virtual Visiting Team at 905-372-6811 ext. 3146 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your preferred contact information, as well as the unit, room number and initials of the patient you would like to connect with (not full name for privacy reasons).
So far, visits have celebrated milestone moments, introduced new babies to family members, connected loved ones from across the globe, or have simply been used to catch up and maintain the connections and support that are vital to the patient journey. One such moment was a 90th virtual birthday celebration.
The family of Richard Gibbs was among those approached to participate in the test phase and he said:
“My mother is in palliative care … the prospect of not seeing her through the toughest part of her life, (due to the pandemic) was heartbreaking. Northumberland [Hills] Hospital staff took the time and care to organize video conferencing. It was a ray of light in a dark time that brought humanity back to an inhumane situation.”
Virtual visits are for non-clinical, social connections only – the service is strictly an alternative for in-person visits and not suitable for clinical care discussions.
The NHH announcement said that “It is not currently known when visitor or volunteer restrictions might be lifted at Ontario hospitals. It is anticipated that NHH’s Virtual Visiting option will continue to be available beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially as part of the NHH Auxiliary volunteer programming that existed prior to the pandemic.”