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Broken TV at Royal Jubilee Hospital finally expected to be fixed

Fate of other broken televisions in the patient care centre is still up in the air, amid a contract dispute between Island Health and TV-service provider HealthHub Solutions
Denis Moffatt and Elizabeth Diane Moffatt with the non-functioning television in the Royal Jubilee Hospital patient care centre. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

The contractor responsible for televisions in Royal Jubilee Hospital’s patient care centre is expected to be at the facility today to replace the TV in the room of a patient who’s had a broken television since December.

On Sunday, the Times Colonist published a story about Elizabeth Diane Moffatt, 86, a former registered nurse who is now a patient at Royal Jubilee and just wants to watch the quiz show Jeopardy! — if she could only get her broken TV to work.

Denis Moffatt, also 86, has tried in vain since December to get his wife’s TV — one of several TVs in the hospital’s patient care centre that no longer function — working again.

Offers to donate, buy and repair hospital TVs have been pouring in from people perplexed by the news that Island Heath can’t fix or replace the televisions because of a contract dispute between the health authority and the TV-service provider HealthHub Solutions.

It’s believed the TVs date to when the $348-million eight-storey 500-bed patient care centre opened in 2011.

“She keeps looking at this thing, the TV on the wall,” expecting to watch a show, said Moffatt, who is at a loss to explain how such a simple fix can be so difficult.

Moffatt said his wife, who is unable to manipulate a handheld device, is highly intelligent and bored, and her cognition has declined in hospital.

The health authority said last week that “HealthHub reviews concerns about their service and works with Island Health when there are equipment issues.”

On Friday, HealthHub Solutions CEO Glenn Gale said the company is reviewing its contractual obligations.

Rusten Flynn, who publicly complained about the broken TVs last year following his wife’s death, said it’s a quality-of-life issue.

“When you don’t have any other quality of life, at least you should be able to watch a TV to let the time pass a little better,” Flynn said Tuesday.

Flynn’s wife, 59-year-old Dawn Stewart, a longtime B.C. government employee who battled cancer for about 18 months, died on June 14 in palliative care at Royal Jubilee Hospital. For the last month of her life, she was unable to get a working TV in her room.

Flynn and other family and friends visited Stewart daily, brought treats, drew pictures on a chalkboard, talked when Stewart could talk, sat with her when she couldn’t, and watched her sleep. The staff was “amazing” and the room was good except for the lack of entertainment, he said.

“She had an iPad and she’d go on it periodically but, at the end, her fingers weren’t working properly, she wasn’t able to hit the buttons properly or use the screen and she was getting more and more frustrated,” said Flynn. “For me to watch that happen to her was heartbreaking, and I don’t know what more I could have done to make her stay any better for her for what she was going through.”

Flynn, a service manager for Bunzl Cleaning and Hygiene janitorial supplies in Victoria, wants to ensure no other patient — especially someone who is dying — ends up in the same situation of having no distraction to pass the time.

Flynn said HealthHub contacted him last year, apologized, and promised to rectify the situation, but “nothing ever happened — [they] never phoned me back or anything.”

Flynn said HealthHub should be stepping up to rectify the problem or Island Health should scrap the contract and a large carrier such as Rogers or Telus should take over: “Someone has to put their foot forward to correct this.”

The Times Colonist has asked Island Health for the contract to see where the problem lies. The health authority has said it’s looking into the request.

North Island Hospital Campbell River and North Island Hospital Comox Valley use Telus Optik for their televisions, according to Island Health’s website.

Dave Stevens, who has visited many family and friends in the Royal Jubilee patient care centre over the last few years, recalls seeing about nine TVs for patients and only a few of the sets were working.

The TV situation at the hospital has been a “standing-joke disaster” since patients stopped having to pay for their use during the pandemic, when visits were restricted, he said.

“One by one, the TVs are failing and seemingly rarely if ever are attended to,” said Stevens, one of many people who wrote to say they’ve noticed the non-functioning TVs for years.

“Patients often get better faster when they’re in good spirits,” he said, adding the mostly ­private rooms can be lonely without distractions.

“Both Island Health and the TV contractor should be ashamed of themselves for letting this go on so long,” said Stevens. He asked why one of the parties can’t declare the contract null and void for non-performance, write a better contract and put it out for bids.

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