FAQ for Families and Visitors
1. My family member/friend has been admitted to an inpatient bed at NHH, but I was told I could not come to visit at this time due to COVID-19. What are my options?
At this time, visitor presence continues to be restricted at hospitals throughout Ontario due to COVID-19. A Virtual Connection is an alternative option to help you connect with your family member/friend who is currently a patient at NHH. It is not an in-person visit but rather a ‘connection’ completed through video technology or by a telephone call.
2. How do I make an appointment?
Call NHH’s Virtual Visiting Team at 905-372-6811 x 3146 or send an email to email@example.com. Please provide your preferred contact information, as well as the unit, room number and initials of the patient you would like to connect with. Note please that full names are not required in this email, in order to protect patient privacy.
3. I need to cancel my appointment. How do I do that?
If you have arranged for a Virtual Connection, but you are not able to participate during the time it has been scheduled, please cancel by calling the Virtual Visiting Team directly at 905-372-6811 x 3146, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We appreciate as much notice as possible, so we can allocate the time to another patient.
4. How many appointments can I book?
Appointments are dependent on availability. NHH’s Virtual Visiting Team will make every effort possible to support every request received but we are also mindful of the need to ensure equal opportunities for families and patients throughout the hospital.
5. What programs or apps does NHH use for Virtual Connections by computer?
NHH is using only one video technology platform at this time: Microsoft Teams. You will be asked to prepare for your visit by downloading the free Microsoft Teams app on your preferred device (smartphone, desktop computer or iPad). You will need to ensure that this same device will also be able to receive the email invitation we will send out to you once your Virtual Connection is scheduled.
6. I do not have a computer. Can you help me set up a Virtual Connection by phone?
Yes. Phone appointments are also available upon request. Please be sure to indicate this preference when you contact us.
7. I have a computer, but I am not good with technology. Will there be someone to help me?
Many people are new to using video technology like this and with some over-the-phone guidance we are having great success. A member of NHH’s Virtual Visiting Team will be happy to work through the set up with you prior to your Virtual Connection. Please be sure to let us know if you require support when you request your appointment and we will be in touch.
8. Can I discuss care goals with the staff and my family member during my Virtual Connection?
No, the purpose and scope of the Virtual Connection Program is to provide non-clinical, social connections virtually. The service is strictly an alternative for in-person visits and not suitable for clinical care discussions. Please speak to a member of your loved one’s care team if you would like to discuss care and they can request a virtual care meeting outside of this Virtual Connection program, as appropriate.
9. Is it possible to have more family members from different households join the Virtual Connection visit?
Yes, Group Virtual Connections are possible. We encourage a maximum of four (4) callers for ease of communication, but our application can accommodate more.
10. How do I set up a Group Virtual Connection?
Use the same process you would use for an individual Connection. All members participating in the Group Virtual Connection will be required to download the Microsoft Teams app on their preferred device and ensure their email has been provided in order for the email invitation to be sent.
11. Are Spiritual Care Providers available upon request?
Yes, NHH’s network of Spiritual Care volunteers are available to participate in your Virtual Connection. Please indicate your interest in this when requesting your appointment.
Virtual Visiting Team contact information
905-372-6811, ext. 3146
Virtual Visiting Program Testimonials
Sabrina Butchart: “My family is very grateful that we had the opportunity to use the virtual connections program during this challenging time. It is difficult to not be able to see my grandmother while she is in the hospital and her time is limited but most difficult for her to be without the support of her family. It is especially difficult on special days that we would like to celebrate with her. The staff that run the virtual connections program were wonderful in helping my grandmother to virtually visit with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren on her 90th birthday. She was so happy to see everyone and hear us sing happy birthday in her native language. It made a difficult day truly special and we are so thankful to the Northumberland hills hospital and staff for this program.”
Kathryn Nichol: “Amy set up a call with my dad who is an ALC patient at NHH waiting for a long-term care bed. We haven't seen him since early March when everything shut down. We were able to jump on MS Teams video conferencing from all over the place - Belgium, Ottawa and Toronto - to say hi and catch up. He loved it and now we are going to do it every week. He has children and grandchildren in a variety of places and we will all be able to join as we can. What a fantastic way to stay connected in this public health crisis. THANK YOU to Amy who has started this program up at NHH and was so wonderful in connecting us and making sure my dad was comfortable with the technology.”
Liz Porter: “It was a milestone in my mother's life. She turned 90 years young, but unfortunately, due to the pandemic we couldn't be with her in person, but you made it possible for all of us to be together through virtual visit. I believe seeing everyone on screen made it for a great birthday under these difficult circumstances. We are grateful to you and the team, as well as all the first responders for all the wonderful work you do. It is greatly appreciated.”
Richard Gibbs: “My mother is in palliative care. The prospect of not seeing her through the toughest part of her life, (due to the pandemic) was heartbreaking. Northumberland [Hills] Hospital staff took the time and care to organize video conferencing. It was a ray light in a dark time that brought humanity back to an inhumane situation. My love and thanks go out to Amy, Tara and all the staff who spearheaded this initiative. The care and compassion you have shown is an inspiration to us all. You put the care in care worker. I can’t thank you enough.”