A message of love was shared on the hospital foundation Facebook page for Lou, a 98-year-old woman who inspired a new method of communication during imposed visitor restrictions at the Langley Memorial Hospital. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Smiling 98-year-old inspires new ways to connect at Langley hospital

Foundation staff liaise between patients and loved-ones who can’t visit due to restrictions

A huge smile on the face of a 98-year-old patient at Langley Memorial Hospital Thursday proved how imperative keeping loved-ones connected can be during the current health crisis.

Health care professionals at the local hospital don’t have the time – amid the choatic pace of the COVID outbreak – to help connect loved-ones on the outside with the patients in care inside Langley Memorial Hospital, explained Terra Scheer, a spokesperson for the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation.

Last weekend, the local hospital announced visitors restrictions within the hospital, the hospice, and the care homes on the Fraser Health campus. It was a decision, Scheer said, that was made for the safety of the staff and patients, as well as for the visitors, noting there have been a few minor exceptions, including essential end-of-life, critical care, maternity, and pediatric care patients.

RELATED: Langley Memorial Hospital restricts visits to reduce COVID-19 spread

Since then, there’s been many requests from families anxious to connect with patients, and likewise, pleas from busy health care workers to help their patients make those connections – knowing that support of loved-ones is often imperative to helping someone recovery, Scheer elaborated.

“While many are staying in touch with their phones, we are seeing a lot of our elders who rely on the in-person visits… This is where staff at Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation are able to lend a hand,” she explained.

To help with in this process, as of Thursday the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation was granted permission to serve a conduit between the two parties.

Scheer said the idea came about soon after the visitor ban was put in place last Sunday, crediting that 98-year-old woman and her family for inspiring the concept.

Last weekend, Lou – the Langley senior and a mother of three – fell and was admitted to Langley Memorial Hospital.

“She had lost her ability to walk or stand,” Scheer explained. “With the current safety protocols limiting visitors to protect both patients and their care staff, Lou has not been able to see or hear from any of her family.”

That was until Thursday.

Ahead of that, Lou’s daughter, Kate, had reached out to the foundation hoping they could help her communicate in some way with her mom.

“Of course, we jumped on the chance to help,” Scheer said. “Connecting people and helping our patients in any way we can is what we do.”

With proper support from the health and safety team, the foundation received approval to work as that go-between for community members and their loved ones in hospital – as long as the COVID-19 visitor restrictions are in place, Scheer clarified.

Kate and her siblings, wrote notes of encouragement and love to their mom to keep her spirits high, and emailed them to the foundation team. The foundation staff was then able to share her family’s messages with Lou, and in turn they recorded a video of Lou saying hello to her family.

That meant that on Thursday, “Lou was able to hear from all her kids and know that she is being thought of often, and that she is well loved. If only you could have seen the smile she on her face yesterday,” Scheer said.

Anyone with a loved one at Langley Memorial, who would like to connect, is invited to email info@lmhfoundation.com and the team will do “what they can” to get a message to the patient, she said.

“This is new for us all, and every day we will be reassessing safe access, but we are committed to helping you to the best of our abilities,” Scheer concluded.

On Friday evening, the foundation was also asked to fundraise for iPads, that would enable staff to connect long-term care residence with their loved ones during the COVID-19 restricted visitor access time. Donations can be made at lmhfoundation.com/covid.

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