CaringBridge enables them to keep in touch with loved ones via the Internet
The University of Maryland Medical Center is sponsoring a free online service to help patients and their families create personal Web sites to stay in touch with loved ones while the patients are receiving medical care.
The medical center and two other hospitals in the University of Maryland Medical System, Kernan Hospital and University Specialty Hospital, are the first in Maryland to partner with CaringBridge, a global nonprofit organization, in offering this service to patients and their families.
By visiting www.caringbridge.org, patients or family members can create a secure CaringBridge Web site and sign in at any time to post journal entries and photographs. Friends and relatives can access the Web site with a special password to read the updates and post their own messages of encouragement.
"We want to do all that we can to support patients and their families during care and treatment," says Anne Williams, R.N., M.S., manager of the patient resource center at the University of Maryland Medical Center. "The service allows the family to easily update friends and relatives without having to field too many phone calls or answer a lot of questions. They can focus their time and energy on helping their loved one to recover."
The service may prove particularly valuable to patients at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center and the University of Maryland Children's Hospital and their families, because of long hospital stays and complex treatments.
"Dealing with a loved one with a serious illness, such as cancer, can be a very trying, stressful time in people's lives. We believe that having this resource available to families of our patients will help to ease this burden by providing them with an easy way to communicate with friends and relatives through the Internet," says Kevin J. Cullen, M.D., director of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.
According to CaringBridge, 30,000 Web sites have been created since Sona Mehring founded the nonprofit organization based in Eagan, Minn., in 1997. Up to 1,200 new sites are created each month. Patients come from all 50 states and many countries around the world. Approximately 70 percent of the Web sites are created for sick and injured children and newborns.