Hackensack Meridian Health Helps to Connect Patients and Families through Virtual Visits during Moments that Matter

May 14, 2020

In response to COVID-19 and the visitation restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic, Hackensack Meridian Health is helping patients and families to connect through virtual visits during moments that matter.

“As soon as we started hearing about visitation limits, we decided to use iPads that had already been donated for rounding,” said Elizabeth Paskas, MBA, MSN, RN, NE-BC, CPXP, vice president, Human Experience, Hackensack Meridian Health. “The first 100 iPads were donated in January and, as the need for virtual visits became clear early on in the pandemic, 200 more iPads were donated.”

The Patient Experience team deployed across a spectrum of care settings at Hackensack Meridian Health hospitals and some post-acute areas saw an opportunity to create virtual visitor experiences. They distributed iPads, helped to facilitate FaceTime or phone calls, and found lower- tech ways to provide routine comforts through virtual rounding, like a certain cup of coffee, or a special item, like a baby blanket for a mom who had not seen her newborn.

“We put ourselves in the shoes of the patients who can’t be with their loved ones – and, like the clinical teams, we wanted to create connections between patients and families in a creative way using the iPad as our resource,” said Ms. Paskas.

Clinicians began requesting the iPads as a way to conduct consults. The iPads have also been used to connect ICU caregivers with the Palliative Care team to discuss care plans – and to hold family meetings to explain the condition of a patient.

“Our shared goal is to transform care by empowering human connections using technology when in-person connections are restricted due to the pandemic,” said Ms. Paskas.

These connections were made in moments from the beginning to the end of life. For some, it meant meeting a newborn for the first time, or connecting with a loved one in the Emergency Room when being there wasn’t possible, or finding a way to say a final goodbye.

“We always keep the human connection at the front line of everything we do,” said Ms. Paskas. “There is hope and there is power in these connections.”