Keeping Patients and Families Connected Through Virtual Visits

St. Joe’s moves to virtual visits with the support of our community

For many St. Joe’s patients and their families, one of the most difficult things about COVID-19 is not being able to see and spend time with one another. Our Hospital’s current no-visitor policy is essential to keeping everyone safe, but for those who are ill and for those who love them, this physical separation is very difficult.

Emotionally, it can take a toll that might even work against a patient’s progress to good health. We know that when in the Hospital, there are few things more comforting than seeing the face and hearing the voice of a loved one. But thanks to the support of our donors, a no visitor policy doesn’t mean no visits.

Two generous donors have made it possible to have virtual visits at St. Joe’s! With more than $85,000 contributed by the Ever Hopeful Fund and St. Elizabeth Home Society, our Foundation was able to grant funds for the Hospital to purchase dedicated iPads—enough to provide one iPad for every eight patients in our Hospital. Using video technology, patients and their families are now able to visit, chat, laugh and share…even when there are many miles between them.

Ana Yurgan-Rotella remotely connects with her father, Peter, using one of the newly dedicated iPads made possible through generous donations by the Ever Hopeful Fund and St. Elizabeth Home Society.

Ana Yurgan-Rotella has been able to connect again with her father, Peter, who is a patient at St. Joe’s. ‘My father is a very social man, his family contact has helped him get through his illness so far,’ she says. ‘Not having us there has caused him and us a lot of tears. I needed a way to connect with him so he did not lose hope. The staff on the unit went out of their way reaching out to us through virtual visits. My father loved seeing us and was thrilled with that regular connection.’

While sitting beside the bed of your loved one is what we instinctively want to do, during this pandemic we regrettably must be apart however, because of our supportive donors, patients are staying connected.

An emotional Peter reacts to seeing his daughter, Ana.

‘My father has something to look forward to now,’ says Ana. ‘I want to express my sincere thanks to the caring staff that work hard every day, supporting my father, all of the other patients and their families.  We send hugs full of gratitude.’ ​

A Healthcare Provider’s Insight on Virtual Visits

“All of us need and benefit from contact with our loved ones, and we are all coping with restrictions to family contact during CoVid-19. For people with dementia, though, family contact has another important function: as memory declines, things that trigger or cue memories become really important to enable a person to recall information and events. Contact with family has that memory triggering ability.

This means family visits enable people with dementia to access their memories and therefore to remain connected to their own past – which really means connected to their own personhood. We have witnessed people whose illness is so advanced they can no longer speak, hugging the iPad when they hear their family speaking to them. It is those moments that really underline how important it is for us to make every effort to maintain those contacts at this time.”

– Dr. Crowson, Geriatric Psychiatrist, Seniors Mental Health Behavioural Inpatient Program