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UMC NEW ORLEANS — Over these past few weeks, there have been may horror stories of COVID-19 patients passing away, alone. For the safety of the loved one’s family, as a patient is hospitalized, they are separated from their family. It is necessary, but it is also necessary to make sure the patient feels the support of the family so that they can continue to fight to get better. One nurse is determined to help families stay together.

Toni Rougeou is a nurse who works with stroke patients. During the first few weeks of the pandemic, few patients were coming into the hospital for strokes, but there were alternatively about 60 new COVID-19 patients that were in the hospital, distanced from their families.

“I would cry everyday pretty much. It was really sad. I put myself in the place of these family members who were trying to figure out what was happening with their sick loved one,” says Toni.

Toni had an idea to use technology by way of a few ipads and the Zoom app to bring family together. It took her a short while of about three days to trouble shoot and then she was ready to orchestrate virtual family reunions.

“It was so rewarding for me. I’m helping these patients realize that the family hasn’t forgotten about them. One of the first patients I had was in the ICU and was on the ventilator on drips and the team didn’t think he was going to survive. I went in and held up the ipad so his wife could see him and talk to him. We did that over the course of the next few weeks until he was on regular oxygen. I truly believe seeing her and hearing her voice helped him to heal.”

University Medical Center says even past the pandemic, they plan on continuing video conferencing as part of the patient experience. They are working on installing a few ipads in the hospital. Please help us celebrate our health heroes, as WGNO celebrates National Nurses Week.