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Nicole Amirault, a social worker at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre who works in the Covid ICU, and Covid Ward, on April 9, 2020.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

This is the first installment in a regular series looking at how businesses, individuals and community groups are helping in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic

The donor: Wildeboer Dellelce LLP and the WD Group of Companies, with staff, clients and friends

The gift: $100,000 for iPads

The cause: Helping patients at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre communicate with loved ones

Shortly after Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre drastically restricted visitors to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, its leadership began brainstorming how they could keep patients connected with families.

Many patients had their own phones or other devices to make video calls, but a large chunk either didn’t have such a device or didn’t know how to connect with friends and family virtually. Hospital staff realized they could bridge this gap by providing the technology themselves.

Early on March 22, hospital chief executive Andy Smith e-mailed board member Perry Dellelce sharing the idea. Mr. Dellelce, a founder of the corporate-finance law firm Wildeboer Dellelce LLP, began contacting partners, colleagues and others.

“A big part of healing is being comfortable and having support from loved ones," Mr. Dellelce says. “If you’re alone, it’s harder to heal.”

Staff had 11 iPads ready two days later. Now they’re up to 47, each with protective, cleanable covers. Lisa Di Prospero, Sunnybrook’s director of practice-based research, has spearheaded the roll-out with colleagues Laura Viola and Genny Ng. Various teams, including social workers, spiritual and religious care providers, recreational therapists and others are making the iPads available to patients.

Patients are eagerly using the iPads. Ms. Di Prospero says a couple has been able to virtually celebrate their wedding anniversary; a pair of married, isolated social workers in separate units were able to connect with their family; and a grandmother was able to hear her grandchildren sing songs for her.

Another 30 iPads are on their way. “The impact has been so great, in terms of the stories we’ve heard,” Ms. Di Prospero says.

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