Limited Wi-Fi access at hospitals frustrates patients

Some New Brunswickers are frustrated by the lack of internet access to Wi-Fi at some of the province’s hospitals.

Horizon Health says a policy on wireless internet access is being developed

Some New Brunswickers are frustrated by the lack of wireless internet access at some of the province’s hospitals.

Joshua Green spent six days in three different New Brunswick hospitals — Saint John Regional Hospital, Upper River Valley Hospital and Hotel-Dieu Hospital of St. Joseph Hospital — last week when his wife Sarah was admitted for multiple blood clots. 

When Green’s cellphone lost its signal, he tried to update family on his wife’s condition by connecting to a Wi-Fi network.

He found a network called “Health/Sante-Pub”at each of the hospitals, which prompted him for a username and a password to log on. Green started asking around andthat is when he received some confusing and conflicting responses about that wireless network.

Green said he was told by one hospital staff member that no wireless internet networks exist for patients, while another in Saint John told him that the networks are basically a secret. 

"One of the really nice ER nurses was like, 'Oh yeah, we got Wi-Fi and they're going have Wi-Fi on the floor you're going to,’” he said.

“They have Wi-Fi up there and she's like, 'Don't let them tell you that they don't have Wi-Fi.’ We'd been in the hospital for four or five days and finally someone on the inside confirms that there is Wi-Fi."

Green and his wife never did manage to find a way to connect to the internet during their time in the hospital. 

"You can get it at McDonalds, you can get it at a coffee shop, but you can't get it at a hospital,” he said.

Sam Fielding, the chief technology officer with the Horizon Health Network, said the experience described by Green is not unique.

"Right now between a lot of our hospitals, our current process for accessing Wi-Fi [networks] are inconsistent," he said.

Fielding said Horizon Health is aware of the benefit online access offers patients.

A standardized system is being worked on but no timeline exists for a provincial rollout of the policy, but regional hospitals will get first access to the public wireless internet access.

He said it is not yet known if patient access to the wireless networks will be free when it eventually arrives.