Editorial: Hospitals should have free Wi-Fi

It boils down to a couple of major considerations: boredom and isolation.

Judging by the reaction we’ve had since posting the story online, we bet the Lake Cowichan woman who has started a petition to get free Wi-Fi installed in Canadian hospitals will have no trouble meeting her 5,000 signature goal.

Clearly this is an idea whose time has come.

One could understand initially, when technology was not at the point it is now, why hospitals didn’t allow use of some devices. Nobody wants to interfere with the life-saving gear hospitals are using. But it’s now entirely possible to provide Wi-Fi to people in hospitals without endangering anyone. Proof is the fact that new hospitals in B.C. have already been built with this capacity – including the new Comox Valley hospital – and the B.C. government is working towards getting Wi-Fi installed in its other facilities as well.

But there is realistically speaking a lot of time between now and then, and the lack of Wi-Fi availability in many facilities is a problem for patients and visitors alike.

It boils down to a couple of major considerations: boredom and isolation.

Internet can help patients and their families stay connected during a stressful time in their lives. This is vital to healing. Many people in B.C., and indeed in other parts of the country, must at times travel significant distances to a hospital capable of dealing with their particular malady. The distance can be bridged somewhat by up-to-date communications technology, namely, Wi-Fi.

There’s also the fact that being able to use a computer can provide hours of entertainment and distraction to patients and their loved ones, the importance of which anyone who has been stuck in hospital for any length of time can tell you cannot be overestimated.

Just because we got along without it in the past is no reason to pooh-pooh its benefits. We got along without a lot of things in the past; that doesn’t mean we are better for it.

–Black Press

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