Student-staffed help center now available for virtual visitors

WUSM students have launched a virtual help center to connect COVID-19 patients with their loved ones at a time of heightened fear, panic and isolation.

“BJC considers the patient’s loved ones an important part of the care team,” said Jennifer Carron, executive director of patient experience at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “Our Virtual Visitor program puts tablets with Zoom technology in the hands of our patients, but in some cases that only solves half the issue.”

Loved ones, already dealing with the anxiety of not being at the patient’s bedside, often struggle to use their personal devices for virtual visits. The help center’s student volunteers alleviate that additional stress by providing technical support — from their own cell phones — while maintaining physical distancing. Sarah Cohen, M2, and Kate Douglas, M4, introduced the help center Friday, April 24.

“We couldn’t imagine being cut off from seeing or hearing our loved ones, especially while ill, and so we were so excited to find a way to help create that connection for BJC patients,” Cohen and Douglas said in an email.

Said Carron: “This is not only extremely helpful for the patient and their loved ones, but also for the students. They are learning and experiencing firsthand the importance of human connection for patients.”