Keeping in Touch through Touch Screens, Thanks to HSC Foundation Donors

April 24, 2020

“This technology may be the only way families can see their loved ones before they pass away”


Since launching the HSC Foundation COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund, we purchased and placed ten iPads in HSC Winnipeg’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to allow communication between patients and their loved ones while hospital visitor restrictions are in place.

In this interview, ICU physician Dr. Kendiss Olafson reflects on the importance of this initiative.


Health Sciences Centre Foundation: Why is communication so crucial during hospitalization?

Dr. Kendiss Olafson: Patients who are critically ill —and their families—experience a tremendous amount of stress. We know that people who have survived a critical illness, along with their families, may develop mental health challenges including anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) after their illness due to these stresses. To be separated from your loved ones during a critical illness increases a sense of isolation and makes things even worse. By enabling ongoing contact between patients and families, we hope to promote their emotional wellbeing and to reduce mental health challenges after they leave the hospital. Also, for patients who may die from their illness, maintaining contact is extremely important and is an essential part of compassionate care.


HSCF: How are the iPads used?

KO: We are using iPads for video conferencing to allow our families and patients to see and speak with each other even though family can not physically visit during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, these devices also allow the medical team to give important medical updates involving multiple family members through group video conferences. For families and patients who have already participated, the ability to see and hear their loved one’s voice has been a tremendous gift during this stressful chapter of their lives. In some situations, this technology may be the only way families can see their loved ones before they pass away.


HSCF: What would you like to say to donors to the COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund?

KO: We are so appreciative of the donations to the HSC Foundation COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund. It will make a huge difference for our patients who are extremely sick and their loved ones who, because of COVID-19, can’t be together. By donating to the HSC Foundation, donors are truly supporting the frontline fight against COVID-19.



HSC Winnipeg’s frontline health care professionals, and the patients who rely on them, need your help today. To make your gift to the HSC Foundation COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund, please click here.