November 5, 2020

iPads at Baton Rouge General Help Patients Connect with Family

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When COVID-19 took hold of our nation, many of us felt the pangs of isolation. Being disconnected from loved ones can be devastating, and that’s especially true of hospital patients battling COVID, which the CDC estimates has claimed the lives of more than 210,000 Americans.

The staff at Baton Rouge General Hospital saw firsthand how seclusion — a result of the hospital’s no-visitor policy — can leave patients feeling discouraged, scared, and alone.

“We needed to come up with a way to fix that problem — to provide the best patient experience that we possibly could,” said Erik Showalter, president of the Baton Rouge General Foundation.

With the help of grant money from the LWCC Foundation’s Louisiana Well Again: COVID-19 Response Program and other community donors, Baton Rouge General was able to respond to the needs of the hospital during the height of the pandemic. Donations helped provide support for patients and staff, including much-needed PPE and iPads to improve the patient experience. All are welcome improvements, but it is the iPads that have had the biggest impact on the patient experience, Showalter said, noting that they have allowed patients to connect with loved ones, and doctors and nurses to deliver care updates with families directly. The ability to communicate directly with their families gives patients the strength to keep going, he said.

“It helps a patient mentally to connect with what they're fighting for.”

The iPads are being utilized not only on the COVID floor but also in the birthing center, the cancer ward, and elsewhere in the hospital where patients are being separated from their families. Carla Broussard, a nurse and patient experience coordinator at Baton Rouge General, recounts the story of a soon-to-be grandmother pacing outside the hospital while her daughter was inside giving birth to her first child.

“Her baby was having a baby and she couldn’t be present for it,” she said. “That’s tough on a mom.”

Thanks to an iPad, however, the patient was able to connect with her mother throughout labor and delivery, and then introduce the baby to her family just minutes after the birth.

“Those first moments were still able to be captured with the use of technology,” Broussard said. “Precious memories that will last a lifetime.”

The hospital has also incorporated the iPads into residency training programs, medical residents are employing them for telehealth visits to accommodate patients who don’t feel comfortable leaving their homes, and the staff is using them to communicate with non-English-speaking and nonverbal patients through translation and communication apps. Showalter thinks this is just the beginning in terms of finding ways the iPads can improve care long-term.

“They've been able to meet patient needs on so many levels here organically, and I think they're just going to continue to do that.”

Baton Rouge General is the city’s first full-service hospital and has been providing for the healthcare needs of the community for more than a century. From its earliest days as a tiny patient ward located above a downtown storefront to serving the greater Baton Rouge area and beyond today (with the only burn unit in a 400-mile radius, patients come for treatment from Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Florida), Baton Rouge General has built a legacy of commitment to caring for the community.

“Our community means everything to us,” said Showalter. “They support this hospital — they have since the day we opened our doors and they continue to do so.”

If you’d like to show your support for the doctors and nurses on the front line of Baton Rouge General, you can donate here.

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