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Tablets help hospital patients stay in touch with family

Asante hospitals are using electronic tablets to help patients connect with family members as visitor restrictions remain in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know that patients recover better and faster when they’re supported by family,” said Amanda Kotler, vice president of nursing at Rogue Regional Medical Center. “Visitor restrictions were put in place to keep patients safe, but they also created a challenge. Asante responded by finding an alternate method to keep patients safe and connected with their loved ones.”

Asante bought 700 tablets for use at the RRMC in Medford, Ashland Community Hospital and Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass. Each tablet cost about $70.

Patients can take the tablets home with them when they’re discharged, hospital officials said.

A patient or family member can request a tablet if the patient’s hospital stay is expected to be longer than 72 hours and the person doesn’t have a personal device like a cellphone, laptop or iPad.

“The family member also needs to have a smart device with video capabilities to receive the communication,” said Michele Strickland, Asante director of informatics. “Otherwise, they’ll have to go old school and use a regular hospital room phone.”

Staying connected is good for both patients and family members, said Laura Magstadt, vice president of nursing at Three Rivers Medical Center.

“Being in the hospital can be stressful, not only for the patient, but for the patient’s family members as well,” she said. “Providing the patient with a tablet means they can stay connected and reassure their family that they’re doing well.”

Hospitals across Oregon have put limits on visitors in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable people, including those who are elderly, have underlying medical conditions or have compromised immune systems.

Asante hospitals have banned visitors except in certain circumstances.

Women giving birth can have one designated support person.

Babies and kids can have two parents or two guardians, including in the newborn intensive care unit.

Patients who are at the end of life can have two visitors.

No visitors can enter rooms of patients being treated for COVID-19, although exceptions can be granted on an individual basis during end-of-life care or other qualifying conditions.

Patients can have one designated friend or family member who must accompany them to a procedure or treatment if a facility staff person is not available to help.

Visitors allowed into a hospital must use hand sanitizer when they enter and leave the hospital, the care area and patient rooms.

They must wear a guest/visitor sticker that is always visible to staff, travel directly to and from the destination in the hospital and maintain social distancing requirements.

People with COVID-19 symptoms are not allowed in the hospitals unless they are seeking medical care.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

Asante bought 700 tablets to help patients in its three Rogue Valley hospitals stay connected to family and friends. File photo