Amrita Budhu is a virtual connections specialist at AdventHealth who connects families with their babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). At the peak of the Delta variant surge, she was facilitating 14-15 virtual calls a day.
Amrita said she loves her job because she gets to build a relationship with the babies’ families, sometimes doing up to nearly 30 calls with them before discharge. One of the moms she’s worked with is Kimya Williams.
Williams got COVID while she was pregnant with her son. Her condition deteriorated, she developed pneumonia and she had to deliver her baby while she was on a ventilator. When she woke up, the first time she saw her son, who was in the NICU, was through a virtual visit.
“I couldn’t believe that I had him,” she said. “I had been on the machine, and I just couldn’t believe it until they showed me. It was shocking and I had to adjust. Now I just can’t get enough of him.”
Williams and her family live about an hour and a half from the hospital. Even if she could’ve had visitors, the drive to and from would’ve been too much for her other kids. The virtual visits proved handy when she was still in the hospital, connecting with her family at home and her baby in the NICU, and now after her discharge when she’s at home taking care of her family but still calling to see her newborn.
“The best decision my family could have made was to get me to that hospital,” Williams said. “I love the virtual visits from AdventHealth and all morning I wait for their call.”
Williams recently visited the Ginsburg Tower at AdventHealth Orlando, where she had been a patient, to show appreciation to the nurse who took care of her and to the environmental services team member who inspired her and encouraged her faith that she would pull through. Budhu, Williams’ virtual connections specialist, was the one who showed her around.
“It was definitely happy tears,” Budhu said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced health care to adapt in many ways, and at AdventHealth that includes innovations in mental and spiritual care in addition to physical care. The reimagining of family visitations, led by the AdventHealth consumer experience team, started with the shipment of hundreds of tablets to facilities across the system, each programmed with a telehealth app specifically adapted for virtual visitations.
Today, pandemic protocols continue to evolve, but AdventHealth leaders still see the benefits of virtual visitation services.
“Our experience leaders and our partners in pastoral care, child life and other areas have really stepped up during this challenging time to extend our mission in innovative ways,” said Pam Guler, vice president and chief experience officer for AdventHealth. “The value of virtual visitations is undeniable and our organization is having key conversations on how to keep this offering available beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.”
To read how a virtual visit made it possible for a church family to gather for an anointing service, click here.