The new North Island Hospital in the Comox Valley. (Black Press file)

Lake Cowichan resident petitioning for free hospital Wi-Fi

A medical condition has Sarah Gibson in and out of hospital regularly

A petition is being circulated by a Lake Cowichan woman in an effort to get free (or reasonably priced) Wi-Fi access in Canadian hospitals.

While some hospitals do offer the service, most don’t.

A medical condition has Sarah Gibson in and out of hospital regularly, sometimes for more than two weeks at a time.

“When I lived in Victoria it was frustrating not to have any internet access, but after getting married and moving to Lake Cowichan it became much more annoying since my husband needed to work where there was internet access. So he would have to drive back and forth a lot,” she explained.

With family and friends only able to visit for short times, isolation sets in quickly.

“I have been in the hospital and bought the TV but it still doesn’t help in the lack of connection you can feel while you are in there for weeks at a time,” she said. “I bring many bags of things to keep me amused, from books to crafts…When you are in there for two weeks minimum it is hard to feel like you are being productive.”

And she’s not alone. There are other reasons to be connected, too.

“I have spent a lot of time in hospital as one cannot leave the elderly there without a constant advocate. Would be great to communicate with family, stay in tough with work and friends and for entertainment,” said one anonymous petition signer.

“I am a frequent hospital patient for lung infections related to my Cystic Fibrosis. Free Wi-Fi will help me to recover and allow me to keep up with work, family and my cystic fibrosis support group when I need them most,” wrote Katelyn Giffin on the petition.

“This is essential for quality care in modern times. Keeps families connected,” wrote Josée Laroche.

Thus far 277 signatures of a 5,000 goal have been collected on the ipetitions.com page Free Internet For Canadian Hospitals.

Island Health spokesperson Meribeth Burton said Island Health provides wireless internet for the public and staff at the new North Island Hospital campuses in Campbell River and the Comox Valley.

“Our goal is to expand public and staff Wi-Fi to other facilities in the future as opportunity and finances allow,” Burton said.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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