The Compassion Coalition: Virtual Visitation Volunteers
The Compassion Coalition is a group of student volunteers that coordinates virtual visitations between hospital patients and their loved ones. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals faced an unprecedented challenge to care for a high volume of critically ill patients. While healthcare workers cared tirelessly for those in need, patients faced the unknown without familiar faces at their side. Due to visitor restrictions necessitated by the pandemic, friends and family of critically ill patients were often unable to communicate with their loved ones. The Compassion Coalition is a direct response to this challenge. With hospital iPads, the Compassion Coalition was able to facilitate virtual meetings between patients and their loved ones via FaceTime or WebEx, allowing loved ones to virtually be by the patient’s side and aid in the healing process. As the number of new COVID cases has begun to decline, students have identified the long term need for this service as visitation restrictions remain in place and families continue to face physical and economic barriers that limit their ability to visit loved one(s) in the hospital. Establishing long-lasting protocols for iPad virtual visits could be beneficial to all patients in the ICU setting who do not have visitors. We propose that involvement of first and second-year medical students in a virtual visitation program designed to facilitate such communication is vital.
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