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Spinal Injury Unit equipped with WiFi

Tuesday 07 July 2020

Imagine your mind was your only real escape from the monotony of being stuck in a wheelchair or hospital bed for months on end, but you couldn't access decent internet to stimulate that mind or pass the time.

Until this year, PA Hospital's (PAH) Spinal Injury Unit (SIU) patients had to use their own mobile data to use the internet, but PA Research Foundation (PARF) stepped up in January to get high-speed broadband installed for the benefit of patients and staff.

With PARF funding the installation of state of the art, high-speed 1 gigabyte download and upload Wi-Fi connection patients can now take their mind off their treatment by accessing the internet to watch movies and TV shows, connect with family and friends, search the web and much more all at the click of a button.

Joyce Uganzi who has been a patient in the unit for the past six months, said having access to high-speed broadband has made her stay at PAH easier, and has allowed her to keep her mobile data separate to keep in touch with family members in Gambia.

"I use it mostly for Netflix, you'd be surprised, I watch Korean dramas, it keeps me entertained," she said.

"It would be very hard without the Wi-Fi, because we're spending maybe three hours in therapies and doing stuff, but most of the afternoons, we're just hanging out in our rooms, so it does help. It makes a huge difference.

Joyce Uganzi with PA Hospital Spinal Injury Unit Nursing Unit Manager Elizabeth Walter.

"I have used Wi-Fi for emails on my iPad and for Netflix, and it has worked perfectly. I have nothing bad to say about it.

"It's been brilliant. I know some internet connections, especially when you're watching something like Netflix or whatever, they can be really slow, but I've never had any issues."

SIU Nursing Unit Manager Elizabeth Walter said her patients have been taking advantage of the high-speed broadband at every opportunity.

"High-speed Wi-Fi allows the patients to not only access entertainment but rehabilitate and get back home sooner, as it allows them to learn to do things online such as shopping which they will have to do when they do head home," she said.

"It also has benefits for us as staff, but the important thing is it makes the patients more comfortable and gives them something to do in their free time."

Joyce who spent almost a year all up in hospital, said she has enjoyed being able to binge watch south Korean drama series 'King Two Hearts' that much, she feels though she has almost learned to speak Korean.

"It's funny because now I feel like I can speak Korean. I wasn't interested at first because it's all subtitled," she said.

"My girlfriend, when she came to see me, she said, "Let's just watch this series." I said, "My eyes are not cut out for this subtitle thing." And she's like, "Let's just watch it".

"The King Two Hearts, I watched it and it's just one of those shows you get hooked on, and now I can listen without looking at the images and sort of know what they are saying, it's just crazy."

PARF Chief Executive Officer Damian Topp said the Wi-Fi was an identified need that PARF was keen to meet.

"We will always try to support any project that is going to benefit patients, whether that be research or patient support initiatives such as this," he said.

"Patients in this unit spend lengthy periods in hospital, and previously had to rely on friends and family visiting and bringing items like books to help pass the time. Now they can use iPads and laptops to access entertainment like Netflix, use social media or video chat with friends and family."

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