Local hospital starts virtual visitor program to connect patients, families during pandemic

Positively Carolina

LITTLE RIVER, SC (WBTW) – Hospitals across the country have changed their visitor policies because of the coronavirus, but McLeod Health has launched a program to help their patients and families stay connected throughout the pandemic.

‘Virtual Care Visits’ give McLeod Health patients access to technology and teach them how to video chat their loved ones.

The program helped Sheila Bevington and her 90-year-old father, who was hospitalized at McLeod Seacoast following an emergency surgery, stay connected during the nine days he was there.

“Having a loved one in the hospital is stressful enough, but on top of not being able to see them and be with them was very hard, but knowing that the people there were amazing, they were over the top, compassionate, very understanding,” Bevington said.

Bevington says her dad is hard of hearing, and hospital staff took the time to write down what she told him during the video chats so he could understand.

“I don’t know what I would’ve done without it,” Bevington said. “It made it more bearable.”

McLeod Health staff have helped more than 1,500 patients video chat with their families since the program started a month ago.

“This program is not only vital for our patients and their family members, but it also has a huge impact on our employees. It allows our employees to be able to find a rewarding moment in their day to connect people. Through this uncertain time, our employees were able to have a glimpse of hope,” Jennifer Rautenberg, Service Excellence Process Manager at McLeod Seacoast​​ said.

“The biggest thing was getting over the hump of the embarrassment of (using) technology. I think understanding that not every patient was willing to say ‘Hey, I don’t have a cell phone,’ but also, ‘Hey, I don’t know how to use my cell phone,’ so it’s been quite fun teaching and engaging patients on how to use their smart devices,” Rautenberg said.

McLeod Heath staff hopes to continue the ‘Virtual Care Visits’ after the pandemic ends.

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