MetroHealth works to connect patients and families despite visitor restrictions

Using technology, old-fashioned letters
A nurse with a iPad.
Posted at 3:10 PM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-23 19:03:14-04

CLEVELAND — With hospitals restricting visitors to curb the spread of coronavirus, it can be so difficult for families and patients in what is already a stressful time.

Nurses and staff at MetroHealth Medical Center have been getting creative when it comes to connecting patients with their loved ones.

For Linda McCrae and her son Daniel, that connection has meant so much.

Daniel was rushed to the emergency room at MetroHealth last Sunday and had to go in for an emergency five-hour surgery on Monday.

“I just wanted to see him. That’s all. I just wanted to see his little face to make sure he was OK,” his mom Linda said.

Of course, it’s what any mother would want.

“In my case, it’s even harder because he’s special needs, he’s nonverbal. I just wanted to be there with him,” McCrae said.

Because of strict visitor restrictions at hospitals across the country and here in Ohio, seeing him in person as he recovered in the ICU wasn’t possible.

“And I know there’s a reason for not visiting and I have no problem with that,” McCrae said.

But knowing how much it meant to the McCrae family, the nurses and staff at MetroHealth quickly figured out a way, walking Linda through the steps and connecting mother and son on video chat, just so she could at least see his face.

“We’re really focusing on how to do we maximize our technology because it is so important to be able to set eyes on your family members,” said Seona Goerndt, director of patient experience at MetroHealth.

They’re helping hundreds of patients and family members stay connected through FaceTime, Skype, texts, phone calls and more.

For families that don’t have the technology available, staff have iPads loaded with the Zoom application to video chat with those outside the hospital walls.

You can even write an email or letter to get in touch with your loved one.

“We have a way for families if they want to email us a letter, we can print it and get it right up to the patient. And it’s just a way to communicate,” Goerndt said.

Experts said they know the connection makes a big difference with patients’ emotional wellbeing and helps with the healing process. They’re also working to stay connected with patients who are outside the hospital and need support through their recovery efforts.

For the McCrae family, the daily moments of face time — even through a video screen — are able to set everyone’s minds at ease.

“Just having the opportunity to see him reassured me that MetroHealth was taking good care of him,” McCrae said. “He looked great and it was just great to see him face-to-face.

“I just really want to thank MetroHealth for doing such a great job, allowing patients and families to stay connected during this unprecedented time.”

And if you’re wondering about sending flowers to your loved ones in the hospital, MetroHealth says that is OK — hospital staff will take the flowers to the patients once they arrive.

Click here for a breakdown of the latest visitation policies and restrictions at MetroHealth amid the pandemic.