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New virtual visitation program brings inpatients face-to-face with distant loved ones

Computer tablet mounted on a pole

As visitation shrinks, isolation increases

VCU Health inpatients without their own portable electronic device can now see family and friends through a new virtual visitation program.

By end of day May 1, every nursing unit within VCU Health will have either a traveling device, consisting of a tablet computer mounted atop a wheeled IV pole, or a smart phone. Each will be preloaded with Zoom teleconferencing, text messaging and FaceTime so patients can enjoy visual communication with friends and family while visitation hours are severely restricted.

Earlier, VCU Health had provided quarantined COVID-19 patients with smart phones to foster face-to-face communications. But with more restrictive visitation affecting all inpatients, the medical center literally rolled out something new so all patients could benefit.

Scheduling visits is easy

Inpatients can schedule time for a call through their nursing unit. Family members in touch with the unit can also schedule time. Instructions on using the face-to-face communication programs are provided. After each call, the tablet or smart phone is sanitized and stored so it is safe for the next user.

For those entering the hospital without their own portable electronic device, the virtual visitation program should bring comfort to those longing to see friends and family.  At least 80 devices will be available.