Patients and visitors to both Victoria General and Royal Jubilee hospitals will now be able to access free public Wi-Fi.
The service was made available Sept. 6 with financial support from local hospital auxiliaries after Lake Cowichan resident Sarah Gibson started a petition in April asking Island Health to provide free access to wireless internet for patients.
Gibson lives with cystic fibrosis and found it a significant financial burden to use her data plan to stay connected with family and friends while in hospital, a place she finds herself often.
“While staying connected through Wi-Fi may not be a medical service, I know from experience, that having those connections outside the hospital can really help in healing and recovery,” Gibson said.
Using the wireless network “IslandHealthGuest” patients and visitors can connect to the internet via Wi-Fi for basic internet browsing, but high-definition video streaming is not supported.
Three other Island hospitals are now wired for public access to Wi-Fi including Cowichan District Hospital, West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni and Lady Minto Hospital on Salt Spring Island.
Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s public Wi-Fi launched in June and the North Island Hospital campuses in Campbell River and Comox included Wi-Fi when they opened in 2017.
“We have heard from patients that the financial burden of using their data plans to communicate with family and friends can add to an already stressful situation,” said Val Cerini Smith, VGH auxiliary president. “This service will help them feel less isolated while they are receiving care.”