Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Rick Lawrence, who lives in Pineview Terrace in Prince Albert, saw his wife, Darla, two to three times a week. After protective visitor restrictions were put in place, Darla and Rick periodically spoke over the phone to each other, but it wasn't the same as seeing each other face-to-face.
“I felt indescribably disconnected," said Darla, who continues to live in the family home. “Bad."
That all changed about a month ago, when Pineview Terrace received an iPad from the Victoria Hospital Foundation. Now, it brings both Darla and Rick great peace of mind to visit with each other, using FaceTime, three or four times a week.
For Darla, “it means I know he's doing okay. It's helped immensely. I'm very grateful."
For Rick, “Knowing she's safe helps me relax. I miss seeing her. I sleep better after I see her."
Rick and Darla Lawrence visit virtually using a tablet donated to Pineview Terrace in Prince Albert.
Rick and Darla are among the hundreds of patients, clients, residents and families around the province benefiting from donations of electronic devices to the Saskatchewan Health Authority's Virtual Visitation Strategy. The strategy is supported by Trent Mitchell, director of Provincial Services with Digital Health, Graham Fast, executive director of Community and Foundation Relations, and Debbie Sinnett, executive director of Continuing Care – Regina. Its goal is to use technology wherever possible to help patients, residents and clients isolated by the pandemic connect with their families and friends.
Rick Lawrence conveys a loving message to his wife, Darla.
“Visitor restrictions have been put in place in our facilities to help protect and keep patients, residents, clients and staff safe," said Fast. “Not being able to be physically present either with a loved one in hospital or in a home because of these restrictions is a hardship for many people. One way we can help restore these ties is by having tablets and cellphones available. These technologies also benefit families because they enable them to speak with health care providers during their loved ones' scheduled medical visits, allowing them to understand and participate in care."
Sinnett and Fast worked with long term care home staff and residents to determine areas of greatest need and Fast then asked the province's health-care foundations for their support. At the same time, businesses and individuals independently saw how they could help and made contributions.
“In the past month, we've received hundreds of iPads, cellphones, and even some smart TVs," said Graham Fast, executive director of community and foundation relations. “These contributions are opening a window to the world for many people."
The following foundations, businesses and individuals have donated:
“We thank each and every donor for their contributions to the Virtual Visitation Strategy," said Fast. “Hundreds of people across the entire province are benefiting from their generosity."