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Patients benefit from high-speed WiFi

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Imagine being stuck in the same place for three months, just as so many of us are at present due to COVID-19, but you have little to no internet.

No entertainment, no connection to the outside world, other than the family members who visit or the staff who are caring for you.

That was the reality for patients in the Princess Alexandra Hospital's (PAH) Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit (BIRU) until recently.

Thanks to a generous $50,000 donation from Sunshine Coast-based business Armesto's Transport, the PA Research Foundation has been able to install state of the art, high-speed internet in the unit, meaning patients and staff now have a 1-gigabyte download and upload Wi-Fi connection.

Armesto's Transport founder Manuel Armesto was moved to make a considerable gift after seeing the love and care given to his grandson, aged 20, who spent time recovering in the unit in 2019 after a brain aneurysm, with the PA Foundation working with BIRU Nursing Unit Manager Shannon Galletly to identify the best ways to use the funds.

PA Research Foundation Chief Executive Officer Damian Topp said high-speed internet was identified as the biggest need the generosity of Armesto's Transport could meet for staff and importantly patients and their families.

"It was an obvious choice, the unit didn't have a great Wi-Fi connection, which meant patients couldn't even answer emails properly let alone video call with their friends and family, or chew up some time browsing the internet," he said.

"High-speed internet allows patients to rehabilitate and get back to life at home, and in the community, quicker because if you're someone that has an acquired brain injury you may not be able to go to the shops like you used to, so you have to shop online.

"Without great Wi-Fi, the patients couldn't learn this, and other online tasks, that allow them to return home earlier.

"Considering the patients spend a significant amount of time in the unit, it was important we were able to offer them something that helps to not only pass the time, but potentially return home sooner."

Martha Hadden, whose son Coedy is currently being treated in the unit, said the installation will mean she can keep Coedy connected to their family and friends back in the American state of Utah.

"Just being able to take calls which I couldn't do before while I was in the hospital will be amazing, and having the option to use the Wi-Fi if I need to use it," she said.

"It will have a huge impact for us."

Mr Armesto said he just wanted to give back to the department that took such good care of his grandson.

"The care shown to my grandson during his time at the PA Hospital was first class, this was just our way of showing our appreciation for that care," he said.

"We are proud to have donated to the Brain Injury Unit and are thrilled to hear of the installation of the high-speed internet as we know it will make patients time easier, and help the staff."

Ms Galletly said the installation would make a world of difference to patients.

"We are a statewide service, we have patients from all over Queensland who are away from their families for long periods of time; previously they didn't have access to keep in touch with their families while they were here," she said.

"Proper Wi-Fi access to use devices for social media and video calling to keep in contact with their families, is a very significant impact for them.

"It also enables family members of patients to be able to come here and do some work and be with their loved ones and stay in the unit.

"From a therapy perspective, we've also got the high-speed Wi-Fi in the physio and occupational therapy areas and this will enable the use of technology in those areas for patients, which will have a positive effect on their therapy while they're here.

"We can also now explore other programs that are considered best practice that we haven't been able to use previously, that's very exciting for us.

"This means the world to me and my staff, not only do our patients now have better connections to the outside world through the internet but we're hopeful it will mean we can get them home sooner."

The PA Research Foundation and Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit would like to acknowledge and thank Armesto's Transport for their generous donation to provide high-speed internet throughout the department.