Keeping patients connected during COVID at Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals

David Lloyd came to Blacktown Hospital emergency department on 6 June under the impression that his iron deficiency was playing up.

Instead he was immediately placed in an induced coma in Blacktown’s intensive care unit, his family prepared for the worst and even came to the hospital for his last rites.

BMDH Occupational Therapy assistant Liana Cuento assists David Lloyd to call his wife Vivienne.

When he woke from his coma, the Russian Orthodox priest and migration agent was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the same time as the current COVID-19 outbreak had begun to grip Sydney.

As he undergoes treatment at Blacktown Hospital, David hasn’t been able to have visitors due to the current COVID-19 restrictions but has found a blessing in the form of video calls.

The married father of two is not technical and doesn’t own a mobile phone but can keep connected thanks to the new service organised by the Allied Health team at Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospital (BMDH).

This initiative uses diversional therapists and allied health assistants to facilitate the calls using iPads – namely for those unable to complete the calls themselves.

 “It’s wonderful to speak and see my wife Vivienne every time I call her using the iPad,” David said.

“It’s miraculous that I’m alive. I’m so grateful for the work the hospital is doing. These conference calls are a vital part of hospital life and I think there are lots of older people in hospital who don’t have the ability to manoeuvre the internet that opens the doors for them,” David said.

From his hospital bed, David is able to support his wife of 42 years, Vivienne, who was diagnosed with cancer two months prior to his own diagnosis.

They share their video calls with their beloved cat, Tim Tam, who loves to hear David’s voice and see him on the screen.

BMDH Allied Health director Bobbi Henao Urrego said the service has received positive feedback from staff and families.

Staff have told us that some patients are more settled after these calls and the team is continuing with this initiative during this challenging time,” Bobbi said.

The free family video call service is provided at Blacktown Hospital Monday – Friday and at Mount Druitt Hospital each Tuesday and Thursday.

If families would like to access this free service for their loved ones, please contact BMDH Occupational Therapy Department Julieanne Gibbons on 0427 580 287.