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Keeping in touch beyond the hospital walls

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For Elinor Moen, it’s a chance to keep in touch with her daughter in Lac du Bonnet and her granddaughter in B.C.

For Gladys Sourisseau, it’s a chance to keep tabs on her grandson in Alberta and her son in New Mexico.

No matter the distance, the new resident and patient email program at Misericordia Health Centre has been helping keep those in the long-term facility in touch with their relatives.

"It’s a wonderful system," said Moen, a 94-year-old former Elmwood resident in interim care at the facility.

Moen came to the centre in August and is waiting for a spot to open up for her at a local nursing home. While she has a daughter who still lives in the city, Moen uses the system to keep in touch with her other daughter and son-in-law, who are out exploring retired life in the Lac du Bonnet area.

"It keeps me caught up on everything. It’s the next best thing to talking to her," Moen said.

The program was launched in May and Misericordia officials have billed it as the first to offer replies to patient emails across hospitals in Winnipeg.

Residents have traded emails across Canada, the United States, and England, according to volunteer Marilyn McLeod.

Every two weeks, McLeod spends an afternoon hand delivering print outs of emails to more than a dozen residents at the centre and helps them craft a reply.

"Most aren’t familiar with technology and many don’t know what email or the Internet is," said McLeod, who lives in North Kildonan.

"They really need help getting that communication out."

Residents interested in emailing their loved ones are able to do so through Misericordia’s website, said McLeod, who also volunteers at the local Ronald McDonald House.

During the holiday season, many residents included the program’s email address in Christmas cards to round out their digital pen pal lists, she added.

The volume of emails is increasing and the program may soon need another volunteer to help out, McLeod said.

"It’s really satisfying I got to be part of implementing this program," she said. "I feel privileged to share in their lives."

For more, visit www.misericordia.mb.ca and click on ‘Email a Resident.’

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