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Hamilton Health Sciences Home
April 30, 2020

Community sends letters to patients during COVID-19

When Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) changed its visiting guidelines to contain the spread of COVID-19, the thought of patients being alone in the hospital without visitors pulled at Rana’s Kamhawy’s heartstrings.

“I began hearing stories from residents, fellow medical students, and on the news about patients or loved ones being alone in hospital. I thought about the patients I had helped care for in my short time in clerkship and how my reassurance to them frequently revolved around their family and friends visiting. This was particularly true for patients being followed up by palliative care, who longed to see their loved ones,” says Rana.

“It hurt my heart to think about those patients being isolated without visits to look forward to. I knew people wanted to help and a sense of community was needed now more than ever.”

Rana is a second year medical student at McMaster University. She created an online form on April 1 for the community to submit letters and drawings to share with patients in the hospital. So far, she has received over 250 submissions from children, parents, students, healthcare workers, and community members.

In partnership with HHS’ Patient Experience team and Volunteer Association (who operate the cafes, cafeterias, parking facilities, and Give Shops throughout the organization, as well as the “Email-a-Patient” service), Rana and a team of volunteers (special thanks to James, Alice, Ninglu and Suffia) have been working hard to format and package these letters for distribution. Each week, the Volunteer Association will print and deliver these letters to different units. A channel on patient TVs will be dedicated to sharing these letters to provide another venue for patients to receive these words of encouragement.

“I’m so grateful and touched by all of the heartfelt responses,” says Rana.

Submit a letter.

Example Letters

“Hello! I hope you will enjoy a little note in the mail, even if it’s from a stranger. I always find that a little bit of news from someone else can be a welcome distraction, so I hope that this brings you a little bit of sunshine!” Read Charlotte’s letter.

“I am 10, I have a cat named Evie, my favourite color is pink and I do gymnastics.” View Leah’s artwork.

“Dear friend, I am writing to you as a parent of a child who spent the better part of a year of his life on the 3B ward at McMaster Children’s Hospital. I am not sure if this letter will end up with you or your parents, but either way, I am hoping it will give you a reason to smile.” Read Sharon’s letter.