A couple who got married over the weekend in Marymount Hospice in Cork were able to transmit their ceremony to siblings in various parts of the world via iPads following a successful technology appeal onsite which has raised nearly €30,000.
Four days ago the palliative care centre in Curraheen made an appeal online where they asked the public to donate money or old iPads and tablets to allow patients to keep in contact with their families.
Patients have been cut off from their families since last month arising out of Covid-19 visitor restrictions.
In a statement, management at Marymount said they were delighted with the support shown to date.
"We are just so touched by the volume of your support. We have raised nearly €30,000 and have been offered many iPads and tablets. Your support, as always, is so appreciated and will make a difference to all of us here at Marymount. In fact, it already has," the statement said.
"In recent days we held a wedding for one of our patients.
"Our staff as always went above and beyond in decorating our physio room with lots of love and providing an amazing five-star wedding dinner.
"Thank you to the Oriel House Hotel who helped us in donating items to brighten up the space.
"As the couple could have no guests because of Covid-19, we used some of our newly donated iPads to connect their families in so that their siblings isolating in various parts of the world could be part of this special day.
"While they couldn't be there in person they still were able to take part in the day. And the couple could share in their love and support. This is only possible because of your support."
The technology appeal was launched after they noticed the difference that an iPad made to a 94-year-old patient called John.
“Four weeks ago John brought his 87-year-old wife, Nora, a cup of tea in bed like any other day.
"Later that day his doctor advised John that he needed to be admitted to an acute Cork hospital due to increasingly severe pains. The following day he was admitted.
"Nora and his daughter Mary and every other family member have been unable to physically see John since the day he was admitted four weeks ago.
"It was four days before they could even hear his voice using his first mobile phone that Mary left in the hospital reception for his use.
"While John is thankfully not suffering from Covid-19, the current precautions are having a huge impact on him and his family."
Staff say that John's form improved tremendously once his daughter dropped off an iPad.
"Earlier this week one of our pastoral care team spotted an iPad that had been delivered for his attention with instructions from his daughter Mary.
"Together they set it up and within 10 minutes John was able to facetime his daughter and then his wife Nora.
"It was a wonderful, emotional moment as they spoke and laughed face to face for the first time in a month, catching up on the news, sharing jokes, singing songs, bemoaning the lack of hairdressing facilities (aren’t we all Nora!) and connecting.
"Not only this – John’s iPad has meant that his daughter Mary can be move involved in details of his care, as she would have been in more normal circumstances, and she has been video conferenced during medical appointments meaning she can help support him from afar."
Marymount University Hospital and Hospice was founded in 1870.
The facility provides 44 specialist palliative care beds, an extensive ambulatory care/day care facility, accommodation for the community palliative care team, and full educational and library resources. There are 63 elderly care beds and a day care facility on campus.
Marymount say that their the decision to restrict visitors was a difficult one given that the facility provides end of life care.
"Without the normal face-to-face interactions with their loved ones our patients understandably may feel a little lost without their trusted partner, siblings, sons, daughters and friends - the people who are their guardians and protectors in their time of need."
Due to social distancing, families are unable to support their loved ones in the way they would have before.
People who are admitted to Marymount are not able to hold their loved one's hands at times they might need that simple comfort and physical touch.
The hospice purchased two designated ward iPads and they also received five donated iPads prior to their appeal last week.
Now they are in a position to have an iPad or tablet in every room so that this connection is available to all.
Donations can continue to be made at https://www.gofundme.com/f/MarymountTechAppeal