Lake Cowichan woman petitions for Wi-Fi in hospitals

Lake Cowichan woman petitions for Wi-Fi in hospitals

WATCH: It’s something many of us take for granted, but Wi-Fi is not an option for patients in many Canadian hospitals. A Lake Cowichan woman wants to that to change. She has launched a petition saying the service would mean improvements in patient care. Kendall Hanson reports.

Having been built more than 50 years ago, it may come as no surprise that there’s no public Wi-Fi at Cowichan District Hospital.

So if patients want to message friends from inside, they need a data plan.

“I would like to have Wi-Fi,” said Graham Redekopp as he left the hospital Friday. “We’ve had a difficult pregnancy and all the other hospitals have had Wi-Fi for their clients and stuff but this one doesn’t seem to.”

Sarah Gibson has cystic fibrosis. She spends a lot of time in hospitals. She knows how important Wi-Fi access is, so she has started a petition to see public Wi-Fi available in hospitals.

“I’m just using my own data and it costs a lot,” said Gibson because she brings her hobbies and crafts to kill time.

In 2015, Island Health was planning on putting Wi-Fi into its hospitals. It put the work to tender but the health authority says due to budget constraints, the money was spent on health care.

“It’s not as simple as ordering Wi-Fi for your home. It’s very expensive,” said Meribeth Burton with Island Health.

“At this time, we were able to roll it out to one of the existing acute care facilities because the Nanaimo Hospital Auxiliary has contributed annual funding to introduce Wi-Fi at the end of June this year. We’re really excited about that and we’re hoping to leverage those opportunities.”

Gibson says she would even be open to Wi-Fi users paying a little to have the extra service, similar to TVs.

Island Health says as it looks to rebuild Cowichan District Hospital Wi-Fi will be in the plans but when there is overcrowding and waits for procedures, tax money needs to first be spent on patient care.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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