Once upon a time, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Saskatchewan, patients at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon and their families would gather in one of the hospital’s family rooms once a week to play bingo.
“Of course, even then we had patients who couldn’t leave their rooms, but still wanted to play. So we used walkie-talkies to get them in on the action,” said Dominique Rust, who manages the Child Life Program at the hospital.&
“Our recreation therapy team holds a lot of great programs during the week for our patients, and bingo was definitely the most popular,” Rust explained. “But all the restrictions put in place because of COVID-19 meant that for a while, we couldn’t hold our weekly games.”
However, a recent donation of ten iPhones from Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation (JPCHF) and Bolt Mobile, along with annual programing funding from JPCHF, has brought bingo back to life at JPCH.
“Now, everyone can stay safe in their rooms and we use the iPhones and Zoom to play bingo again,” Rust said.
“It’s really helped get a bit of a sense of normalcy back, even though we’re using different tools,” Rust noted. “Our recreation therapy team has been phenomenal in terms of finding activities where patients can still socialize while maintaining physical distancing. It’s been a challenge, but they have really risen to the occasion.”
Thought different from what it used to be, bingo remains popular with the patients and families at the hospital.
“I like playing Zoom bingo because it’s a fun way to pass the time while I’m in hospital and there’s awesome prizes,” said patient Avery Webb, 16.
Her mom, Angela, added, “It’s nice to see the kids socializing, having fun, and hearing all the laughter!”