Connecting with loved ones who are receiving medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a challenge for families in an environment where no visitors are allowed. Because visits from friends and family are an integral part of the healing process, Weiss Memorial Hospital is now helping patients and loved ones connect virtually through iPads.

staff using ipads with patients

The “virtual visit” idea originated when social worker Alexandria Buckley recommended obtaining iPads to help families and patients connect during the pandemic. Some of our patients’ families had requested alternate ways to see their loved ones since visiting them was no longer an option. “The virtual visits allowed through the iPads are a true gift when it comes to helping patients get the support and love they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are so happy to be able to accommodate families in this way,” said Char Cioe, Director of Case Management.

Responding to the need, Weiss’ parent company, Pipeline Health, recently provided four iPads to each of its hospitals and healthcare facilities. Nurses reach out to the case managers when families request to see their loved ones through a virtual visit and social workers assist with setting up the calls and managing the distribution and storage of the iPads.

Occupational therapist Kim Hook, OTR/L, has been leading the education component of virtual visits at Weiss. She works with nurses, social workers and families to educate them on the use of FaceTime and Zoom on the iPads. “I educate both staff and families to make sure they are comfortable using either FaceTime or Zoom. If families are using Zoom I make sure they know how to download the app and give them the login information to use when the nurse is ready to begin the call,” explained Kim.

The iPads were put into use immediately for critically ill patients after case managers and nurses were brought up to speed on the process. “At first I was unsure about the value of using these iPads for patients that were critically ill and non-responsive, but after completing my first virtual visit I could see the benefits immediately. When the patient heard his family he opened his eyes and even spoke a few words. It was so heartwarming,” recalled nurse Loredana Dobocan, RN.