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Lakeridge Health's IT team are supporting the Virtual Connections program connect patients with loved ones during COVID-19

Lakeridge Health's IT team are supporting the Virtual Connections program connect patients with loved ones during COVID-19

Get Started with the Virtual Connections ProgramSupport your Hospital during COVID-19
Lakeridge Health's IT team are supporting the Virtual Connections program connect patients with loved ones during COVID-19

Lakeridge Health's IT team are supporting the Virtual Connections program connect patients with loved ones during COVID-19

Staff Story

IT team connecting patients during COVID-19

As stay-at-home orders keep us indoors, many of us are experiencing an even deeper need for connection. Suddenly, birthdays are celebrated through windows, cherished anniversaries are shared via video calls, and just the sight of a smiling face without a mask is all the more precious.

Connecting during COVID-19

To help protect our community, new visitor restrictions policies have been implemented at our Lakeridge Health Hospitals; but that hasn’t stopped our caring staff from stepping up to ensure patients and their families can connect in the safest way possible: virtually. With donor support, every in-patient unit and Emergency Department at Lakeridge Health is now equipped with an iPad, totaling over 40 devices, to help unite patients with their loved ones. The unsung heroes helping convert donor generosity into this virtual initiative is Lakeridge Health’s IT team.

Update: As of May 1, 2020, the IT team has connected over 350 patients with their loved ones. The high volume areas within our Lakeridge Health Hospitals have two iPads each and on Friday, May 1, the team outfitted every ICU room with its own iPad. This means nearly 80 iPads have been deployed across Lakeridge Health!

How the new Virtual Connections Program Works

When loved ones call (905) 433-4429 to connect with a patient in the Hospital, an IT operator answers. These operators are working from their homes and going above and beyond each time a caller wants to connect with a patient. These hospital heroes witness a range of emotions and technical abilities, as they help callers establish a video connection.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” says Sarah, Clinical Informatics Manager. “We had the technology and suddenly we had a great need. Everyone came together to give our patients and their families the critical ability to connect.”

“Ingenuity is the key. Our team came in to see how we could use existing technology to meet the sudden needs of our community,” shares Andrew, IT Strategy and Innovation Director. “We wanted to ensure we were not burdening our already hard-working clinical teams. So, we modelled the program after the original telephone operator. An old school idea with new tech! Our team enabled the technical aspects, and we are helping virtual visitors and managing the service before iPads on the floor are sent to the patient.”

How to Get Started

For those looking to use the Virtual Connections program, start by reading the Getting Started guide.

“Our operators take time to help family members get set up. For some, this technology is new. It’s amazing to see the lengths operators are going through to make sure the connection happens,” Sarah reflects.

Connecting loved ones with patients

For the IT team, the moment they are able to connect a family member with a patient is the moment which makes every effort worth it. Sarah and Andrew can already attest to several incredible moments of connection for patients, and for the operators themselves.

“We recently connected a couple who have never been apart for their 64th wedding anniversary. Another family introduced their new baby to her grandmother for the first time. We have a wife who calls every day to speak with her husband staying in the ICU. We are even fielding international calls, with one loved one receiving video calls from Germany,” they shared.

Recently, the Virtual Connections program was used by a patient with hearing impairments as they visited Lakeridge Health Oshawa’s Emergency Room. The patient was able to virtually connect with family and use sign language to communicate consent for a specific treatment.

Meet the IT heroes who are working around the clock to connect you to your loved ones

Andrew and Sarah are two of many heroes who made the Virtual Connections program a reality. Both of them wish to highlight our operators; Sara, Lesley, Shari, Navneet, Sheryl and Abigail; our technical support; Domenic and Luzma for setting up and configuring our iPads; our telecom technician, Aaron; and the Virtual Connection’s IT project manager, Kevin. They also want to thank donors from across Durham Region for their support and every Lakeridge Health staff member who helped make these heart-warming virtual connections possible. Read more about the teams behind the new program here.

Possible because of you, our donors!

As we honour our front line heroes, join us in celebrating the work of our Lakeridge Health IT team! You can learn more about getting started with the Virtual Connections program here.
All four foundations supporting Lakeridge Health have joined together to support our Hospitals’ needs during these unprecedented times.

If you too would like to support Lakeridge Health as Durham fights COVID-19, please donate now at