Honoring Linda Kajtazi, Alexandra Rodriguez and Elvis Matos
The outbreak of Covid-19 has caused fear and uncertainty within the world. Many areas are taking drastic measures in an effort to prevent the spread of this virus, which has led to significant uneasiness with families when a loved one is brought to the hospital. As you know, visitor restrictions were one of the many measures that we put into place to stop the spread. This, unfortunately, left patients feeling alone and scared and their family members feeling like they were in the dark. We knew we needed to do something and could not sit back.
Our goal was to help patients feel less isolated, keep families included, and provide warmth and comfort during a difficult time. So we decided that we were going to start our own initiative. This initiative started with us using our own devices, in addition to devices that were borrowed from our friends. It was an almost instantaneous feeling of joy when we were able to bring smiles and tears of happiness to the faces of our patients’ loved ones by enabling family members to virtually see, speak, and hear the person they feared they would never see again.
Members of our community heard about this initiative and graciously donated the technology that we needed, and now, over 35 iPads have been distributed throughout the hospital. We have successfully completed almost 450 video chat sessions, which have ranged from saying hello, to singing happy birthday, to saying a final goodbye. We saw that the video chats were making an impact, and we wanted to expand further to allow our patients to feel as loved as possible in their final hours. This led to us working with families to play their loved one’s favorite songs in the patient’s room. We have read countless favorite stories in the patients’ native tongue through our lovely interpreter network. For additional spiritual support, we read prayers to our patients and played their preferred religious music, as directed by the families’ wishes. For mothers who were unable to see their newborn baby, we have taken pictures and shared them with family, offering reassurance that the baby is doing well. We have also played relaxing and calming music, offered guided meditation, and recorded the voices of loved ones cheering the patient on to hang in there, keep fighting, and stay strong.
And do you know what we have accomplished?
Patients who felt defeated became more inclined to participate in their care, more involved in their discharge plan, and less anxious about not being able to see their family. Patients, whose families were so unsure whether they would make it, fought harder to survive and make it home! Family members looking into the face of their loved one had the opportunity to tell them how much they missed and loved them before their passing, and families were able to have a sense of closure, which otherwise they may not have had.
We know these are tough and unforeseen times, but we continue to be here for our patients, their families, and our community. We hope that through these human connections we continue to motivate everyone on this journey to approach every day as a new day.