NANAIMO — Anyone staying at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital won't have to feel isolated and disconnected from their friends and family.
Island Health announced Wednesday free Wi-Fi is coming to the hospital in an effort to keep patients connected during their stay.
It's expected to cost $5,000 a year, paid for by the volunteer Nanaimo Hospital Auxiliary.
Pamela Jessen, a patient partner with the Patient Voices Network, told NanaimoNewsNOW free Wi-Fi will remove a significant burden from those staying in hospital and quickly using up any available data on their phones, if they have any in the first place.
“If a loved one's in the hospital, you've got enough to worry about already. A data overage or a cell bill, that's the last thing that should be on your mind,” she said.
“You want to be (at their bed side) but you have to deal with a data bill, so you're constantly feeling conflicted and I think that's a terrible thing to have to be managing when all you want to do is be with that person who's in the hospital and spend time with them.”
Jessen said there's numerous situations at a hospital, such as surgery or an impending death, where large families are organizing and already under a significant amount of stress.
“You want your time and efforts to be spent with that person, not dealing with outside matters.”
Offering Wi-Fi services at Island Health facilities has been in the works for several years, with a request for proposal first being issues in early 2015. The new service will be for basic internet browsing, not the high-bandwith internet used for video-streaming.
NRGH joins North Island Hospital as the only sites on the Island with free public Wi-Fi.
An Island Health release said their goal is to expand the service to other hospitals and facilities but there's no timeline in place.
This story will be updated with quotes from Island Health.
On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit
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