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One TV at Royal Jubilee replaced, pleasing a patient; others still without

The company that maintains the hospital TVs says there have been problems with the contract, made more complicated by the pandemic

A former nurse, now a patient at Royal Jubilee Hospital, is again watching her favourite quiz show Jeopardy! on a new TV after months staring at a broken set on the wall.

Last week, the Times Colonist published a story about Elizabeth Diane Moffatt, 86, a former registered nurse and now a patient at Royal Jubilee who just wanted to watch TV, and her husband Denis Moffatt, the same age, who tried in vain since December to get it fixed or replaced.

“She’s happy,” said Moffatt on Friday. “She watched Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune last night, and Chopped.”

Service provider HealthHub Solutions sourced and installed the TV, but Island Health didn’t say who paid for the set.

Moffatt, who didn’t know of a standoff between Island Health and HealthHub Solutions, said he was miffed that such a simple request to replace the TV couldn’t be fulfilled.

However, when he came across the story of Rusten Flynn, he became angry and motivated to do something about it for his wife and for Flynn. That’s when he contacted the newspaper.

Flynn publicly complained about the broken TVs at Royal Jubilee Hospital last year following his wife’s death from cancer on June 14.

Dawn Stewart, 59, a longtime B.C. government employee who battled cancer for 18 months, spent her last month in palliative care at the hospital too sick to work her iPad and denied the distraction of a TV.

Flynn called it 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 this week.

Elizabeth Moffatt, who has Alzheimer’s, is also unable to manipulate hand-held electronic devices and was instead spending her days with a fidget blanket or writing notes to herself.

The problem now is that other patients are without working TVs, said Denis Moffatt.

“Diane is foremost in my mind but I’m certainly hopeful all the other people going without a working TV in hospital can push the power button and get some action.”

Several people have contacted the Times Colonist to talk about the disappointment and added discomfort they’ve suffered in hospital while in physical, emotional or mental pain and unable lose themselves in the challenge of a quiz show or the mind-numbing entertainment of a comedy or drama.

Glenn Gale, CEO of HealthHub Solutions, said the contract between his company and Island Health was signed in 2011 and since then there have been “several extensions.”

There were complications because during the pandemic, technicians “weren’t even allowed to go into the hospitals.” Now, the technology has advanced so far —“night and day” — that the contract needs a re-write or adjusting, Gale said.

The contracts it offers today include full service and replacement packages, he said. “We actually manage the equipment, replace it when it’s defective beyond repair or at its end of life which is typically a five- to 10-year period.”

Gale couldn’t immediately say when the latest contract extension ends.

Generally, at the end of a contract term, a client would find the capital to “replace the aging gear or they find another pathway to upgrade,” said Gale.

Island Health couldn’t say this week how many of its TVs don’t function.

Gale rejects the notion that a majority of the TVs haven’t worked for years, as many patients claim.

Typically “Royal Jubilee would contact us if there was a problem and we send technicians out to fix the problems,” he said.

Patients say they’ve been told by hospital staff there is nothing they can do about the broken TVs and if a HealthHub Solutions technician comes, he generally fixes just one or two.

Gale said there’s no contract dispute and instead describes it as a case of his company and Island Health working together to update the contract.

Asked if the responsibility for replacing the TVs lies with the health authority, Gale said: “I don’t want to put Island Health in an awkward position here.”

“We’ve enjoyed a great relationship with Island Health over the years and I think we still have a great relationship with them,” said Gale.

“We sold the original equipment to Island Health. It’s not an evergreen contract that we have to upgrade equipment.”

News stories on the broken hospital TVs have heightened the need for a new approach, Gale said.

“We’re in contact with the senior executives at Island Health to find a solution.”

Stay tuned.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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