Community, COVID-19

Spectrum Health and Community Partners Work to Keep Patients and Families Connected

Virtual visits made possible through ingenuity and donated equipment

Grand Rapids, Mich., April 14, 2020 – When visitor restrictions impacted intensive care unit (ICU) patients and families at Spectrum Health, the ingenuity of the team and the generosity of community partners helped to fill the void.

Virtual visits, made possible through creative problem-solving and donated iPads, power cords and technical assistance, have lifted the spirits of family members separated by illness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is super touching to see patients able to talk with their families again,” said Maggie Simons, RN, BSN, nursing supervisor for cardiothoracic critical care at the Spectrum Health Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center. “Helping them connect with their families is better than any medicine we could give them.”

Spectrum Health team members began looking for ways to create a virtual connection after a state policy on visitor restrictions took effect March 16. The restrictions, which prohibit hospital visitors except in limited circumstances, are designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect patients and health care workers.

“As we have seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Spectrum Health team members across our organization have come together to find innovative ways to continue providing the highest quality care and compassionate solutions for our patients and families,” said James Bonner, senior director, patient safety and experience, Spectrum Health. “This effort is aided by an outpouring of support from our community.”

The Spectrum Health team began working to make virtual visits happen—creating a connection that was secure and complied with health care privacy regulations, all in a controlled time frame that allowed for trouble shooting with families and nursing staff.

To aid in the effort, Bank of America donated 200 iPads and Byrne Electrical Systems engineered and donated a Power Adapter solution to support virtual iPad stations. Zeeland Public Schools have loaned 300 iPads to Zeeland Community Hospital.

The Spectrum Health team then set up Microsoft Teams, a video-conferencing app, on the iPads. They helped the first family members download the app at home on their own devices. The nursing staff plays a critical role in making sure that patients and families stay connected.

In some cases, the ICU patients have been able to take part virtually in family events—seeing a new baby or a child’s birthday celebration, for example.

Donations to Spectrum Health Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund will go toward purchasing additional iPads and other equipment and services needed during the pandemic.


Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system that provides care and coverage, comprising 31,000+ team members, 14 hospitals (including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital), a robust network of care facilities, teams of nationally recognized doctors and providers, and the nation’s third-largest provider-sponsored health plan, Priority Health, currently serving over 1 million members across the state of Michigan. People are at the heart of everything we do. Locally governed and headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we are focused on our mission: to improve health, inspire hope and save lives. Spectrum Health has a legacy of strong community partnerships, philanthropy and transparency. Through experience, innovation and collaboration, we are reimagining a better, more equitable model of health and wellness.

Tim Hawkins
Media Relations
Office: 616.486.6091
Mobile: 616.443.0361

Sarina Gleason
Media Relations
Phone: 517.256.5618