Haldimand, Ont., mayor using tech to connect COVID-19 patients with family

An initiative from Haldimand County’s mayor hopes to use technology to connect families with loved ones in isolation at long-term care homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ken Hewitt says he’s obtained 50 iPads and headsets and hopes to share them with those who have relatives in several of the county’s care homes hit hard by the pandemic.

“Seeing these people not be able to communicate with a lot of their families, it’s just a rip at the core of the heart of many people, including myself,” Hewitt said.

Long-term care homes in Haldimand County have struggled amid the pandemic, particularly Anson Place Care Centre, which has recorded 24 resident deaths out of 70 with COVID-19. As well, 30 staff members at the facility have tested positive for the virus.

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) says all residents at Anson Place remain in self-isolation and staff have been wearing full personal protective equipment since an outbreak was declared at the facility in early April.

“I couldn’t imagine having a family member, you know, being in this scenario. And I can’t speak for those families that that are going through this,” Hewitt said, “I know it’s the people that are working are doing the very best they can.”

Hewitt says the idea to requisition the iPads came when he was looking for an alternative fundraising campaign in light of the 9th Annual Mayor’s Charity Gala being cancelled due to the pandemic.

“So I reached out to some of our sponsors and the intent was really to find a way that maybe they would be able to help us with support, starting with Anson Place.”

Hewitt’s goal is to secure iPads and headsets for every resident inside a Haldimand County care centre and hopefully extending that to care centre residents in Norfolk County as well.

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“It’s not certainly the most unique situation, but it’s at least a start to be able to find a positive in this awful time.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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