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Connecting Patients and Families Together During COVID-19

UH Geauga Medical Center

Many things have been made more complex by COVID-19, perhaps none more so than human interaction. Fortunately, technology is helping everyone from patients and families to caregivers combat the isolation resulting from social distancing and quarantine restrictions. Recognizing this need, UH friends and supporters have helped purchase more than 80 iPads and iPhone chargers since the onset of the pandemic to better keep patients and families connected.

“I’ve been a nurse for a long time, but taking care of patients with COVID-19 is different,” explained Chris Dinallo-Morris, RN, an intensive care nurse at UH Geauga Medical Center. “These patients aren’t just facing the virus. They also have to deal with the isolation, which can be almost as unbearable as the disease itself.”

Working on the frontlines, Chris has helped many patients stay connected to their loved ones and frequently uses an iPad to facilitate communication. “As caregivers, we are the only link between our patients and their families,” she said. “It’s important that we give them some control in the situation. With an iPad, patients can communicate with the outside world, caregivers and families can meet each other, and, if the situation comes to it, an iPad can allow families to say their final goodbyes.”

For Chris, this task is both heart-wrenching and essential. “The death of a loved one is one of the most intimate moments we experience in life and, under normal circumstances, families are able to be there, to touch them, to kiss them, to tell them it will be ok,” she said. “But they can’t do that right now. So, in that moment, it’s my job to be part of their family and hold their loved one’s hand on their behalf. And, with my other hand, to hold an iPad so that everyone can see each other one last time.

“It’s an emotional journey, but during this time it’s important that we support each other however we can.”

University Hospitals is grateful to all individuals and organizations willing to help our caregivers, patients and community during the COVID-19 crisis. Community response and caregiver support funds have been established to support the extensive patient care, medical supplies, research and education needs. 

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