Annex Helps the Burnaby Hospital Foundation
In mid-March, Burnaby Hospital and the Burnaby Hospital Foundation (the Foundation) faced a problem they had never encountered before. Following COVID-19 directives, ICU and long-term patients in Burnaby Hospital were put into isolation – no visits with friends or family, no contact with anybody outside of nurses and hospital staff for the foreseeable future. No hugs, no handclasps, no friendly faces at the foot of the bed. Burnaby Hospital did not have any processes in place for dealing with a large group of patients in isolation and had limited knowledge of the effects of isolation on elderly and vulnerable patients.
The Foundation typically raises funds for new and upgraded medical equipment and technology for Burnaby Hospital, as well as community outreach programs and community wellness initiatives. In light of their mission and purpose, Kristy James, CEO, believed the Foundation could, and should, take on the responsibility of putting a plan in place to reduce the impact of isolation on the patients in ICU and the long-term care facility.
Kristy sent out a call to members and the Board for ideas and donations. After some discussion, the Foundation decided to set up a project to use personal devices to connect patients with family and friends. One of the Board members succeeded in obtaining donations of 52 devices – a mixture of iPhones, Alcatel tablets, Android phones and iPads. With the devices now procured, the Foundation needed to find a technical resource who could set the devices up so that nurses and staff at the hospital were able to easily and seamlessly connect patients with their families and friends.
Kristy reached out to Annex Helps, the corporate social responsibility program run by Annex Consulting Group (Annex). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Annex Helps added a program to provide volunteers to help with COVID-19 initiatives. Stacey Cerniuk, President and CEO of Annex, discussed the proposed project with Kristy and agreed to find a resource who could configure the devices and provide expertise to nurses and staff if needed. Annex Helps found the ideal volunteer in Mahmood Rashid.
Mahmood, a technical architect, was on his way in mid-March to fulfill a commitment to provide humanitarian services in Iraq. He arrived in London and discovered that his on-going flight to Iraq was cancelled. Within the next few days, the call went out for Canadians to return home and Mahmood found himself back in Vancouver in mandatory isolation for 14 days. Mahmood was still determined to provide service where and when he could and started reaching out to colleagues and friends, looking for a project he could work on from his home. His skills and expertise were exactly what was needed to get the Foundation project up and running.
Soon after connecting with the Foundation, Mahmood found himself sitting at his kitchen table with 52 different devices spread out in front of him. His first order of business was to develop a plan for configuring the devices. Kristy had explained to Mahmood that many of the isolated patients were elderly and not necessarily experts in technology. Furthermore, the nurses and staff at the hospital had limited time available to help the patients connect with their family and friends. For the project to work, Mahmood had to come up with a way to make the devices easy to use for both staff and patients. He knew that it would be essential to have a consistent look-and-feel across all the devices, despite the mishmash of brand names and operating systems.
Kristy and Mahmood decided that a small group of apps would be optimal. They decided to load the devices with Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Zoom, Hangouts, Netflix, Instagram, and Skype. Sitting at his kitchen table, Mahmood individually set up each device and ensured that the order of the apps was consistent across all the devices.
Next, Mahmood turned his attention to privacy and security concerns. Because the devices would all be running on the hospital wireless network, Mahmood knew that each device had to have its own unique identity so there would be no session cross over between devices. Working with Annex personnel, Mahmood was able to obtain enough individual IDs for the devices and this gave him the confidence to know that patients would be able to securely connect with their family and friends.
Mahmood completed the setup in a few days and called Kristy to let her know that the devices were ready to go. As the project neared its go-live moment, Mahmood thought about his definition of success. “If I can make one person smile and if I can help reduce the impact of social isolation, this will be a success.”
As soon as the devices were received at the hospital, the staff took them to the ICU and into the long-term care facility. Within an hour of receiving the devices, a staff member had successfully connected a patient with a family member. Mahmood’s carefully thought out plan worked – staff and nurses were able to easily connect patients with their family and friends. One patient connected with her dear friend, Charlotte Diamond, and was gifted with a song from Charlotte (see this story at https://globalnews.ca/video/6830663/burnaby-hospital-icu-gifted-with-ipads-and-iphones/).
According to Kristy, the project “would not have been able to be done without the technical support from Mahmood and Annex Helps”. Kristy and the Board were thrilled with the ease by which the nurses and staff were able to help patients reach out to their friends and family and to see that the connection was instrumental in lessening the impact of isolation.
The project was a great partnership between the Foundation, Annex Helps, and Mahmood Rashid – the Foundation secured the devices, Annex Helps reached out to find the perfect volunteer, and Mahmood brought his expertise and commitment to humanitarian service.
Significant financial resources were not required, but vision and a desire to help the vulnerable achieve some level of comfort in these uncertain times drove the project from inception to successful implementation. This project serves to remind us that we are all in this together and that we can do it, one smile at a time.
Annex Consulting Group is an IT recruitment and solutions company that provides IT contractors, employees and project teams to clients across North America. Established in 1998, Annex has placed thousands of IT and business professionals for hundreds of clients with an industry-leading 97% customer satisfaction rating.
About Annex Helps
Annex Helps is a volunteer program to help front-line essential services organizations, not-for-profits and charities in their fight against COVID-19. If you represent an organization that needs volunteers, or you wish to donate your time and expertise, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. While Annex’s purpose is to make connections that change lives, the purpose of Annex Helps is to make connections that save lives.
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