Precious Moments

August 18, 2021

Foundation donors keep families connected

Irene and John Reimer: “The iPad program was a godsend. It’s the best thing anyone thought of,” said John Reimer.

“Dad is doing very poorly. It doesn’t look good,” Lisa Doerksen wrote in an email to an HSC Foundation writer on the morning of May 4. “The iPads now were even more precious.”

Within a couple of hours of the email, John Reimer passed away in his Steinbach hospital bed at the age of 74, one of the first Manitobans to succumb to COVID-19. His death was unexpected. He had spent three weeks in HSC Winnipeg’s Intensive Care Unit, including two in a coma, but was well on the road to recovery. After being transferred to Bethesda Regional Health Centre, Reimer agreed to an interview, from his hospital bed, to talk about his experience, and to talk about the impact of having a donor-funded iPad at his disposal in the ICU. With visitor restrictions in place, the iPad was a lifeline that connected Reimer with his wife Irene and the rest of the family.

In the interview, he was gracious and good-humoured; eager to heal and get out of the hospital. Most of all, he was grateful for the iPad.

“I would have had no connection to my family whatsoever. They couldn’t visit,” said Reimer from his hospital bed. “The iPad program was a godsend. It’s the best thing anyone thought of… and there were top-notch people in the ICU. You can’t get any better.”

Doerksen, Reimer’s daughter, was similarly grateful. “If there were no visitor restrictions in place someone from our family would have been there as much as possible,” she said. “With the iPads in place, we could see my dad wink and smile and mouth ‘I love you’ even when he was intubated. It was so important for my dad to see familiar faces. A big thank you to the donors who made this possible.”

Other than his final hour spent with Irene at his bedside, John Reimer could not spend time in-person with his family for the final five weeks of his life. Thanks to HSC Foundation donors, Reimer and his family could enjoy the best connection possible at a difficult time. ICU patients and their families continue to benefit from this program and the generosity of our donors every day.