Victoria hospital joins Telus social media platform

Terry-LakeVictoria General Hospital has become the first hospital on Vancouver Island to join Upopolis, an innovative social support platform and networking tool giving young patients safe and secure access to kid-friendly medical content. Upopolis also provides kids with a vital link to their families, friends and schools while in hospital. “We are pleased to support initiatives that help young patients feel empowered while in our care,” said Health Minister Terry Lake (pictured).

“Not only is Upopolis an age-appropriate learning tool that brings children who face similar challenges together on their healthcare journeys; it also helps kids be kids through familiar social media channels.”

Founded and created by Kids’ Health Links Foundation (KHLF) and powered by Telus Health, Upopolis.com is Canada’s only private, secure and trusted online social network designed for kids and teens receiving medical care in hospitals and clinics.

“Through the overwhelming support of Telus as our technology partner, as well as our many individual and corporate supporters, today more than 2,000 youth across Canada have been able to take advantage of Upopolis,” said Basile Papaevangelou, chairman and founder of Kids’ Health Links Foundation. “Having Victoria General Hospital join our Upopolis family puts us one step closer to our goal of making Upopolis available across the country in every medical treatment facility that serves children and teens, and we are forging ahead towards making that a reality.”

Upopolis differs from typical social networks by delivering therapeutic benefits for the youth who use it. These benefits include being able to access medical content written in kid-friendly language so patients can better understand their diagnosis and treatment plan; and enabling connections with other patients who share similar diagnoses through public and private discussion groups, which can lead to new friendships, shared experiences and new interests that form a broader support network for the patient.

“The Victoria General Hospital serves a diverse patient population from across Vancouver Island,” said Dr. Brendan Carr, president and CEO of Island Health. “Upopolis can provide online social support for our patients and help them connect with others in a safe way, stay connected to their communities, and relate to other children and youth on a similar healthcare journey.”

In addition to remaining secure and privately connected with networks outside of the hospital or treatment centre while undergoing care, Upopolis also provides patients with familiar features of social networking such as personal profiles, a newsfeed, instant chat, photo uploading and creating spaces based on common interests and/or diagnoses.

“For youth undergoing medical treatment, research shows us that the ability for them to stay connected with their support network, both inside and outside of the hospital, is a significant part of the healing process,” said Paul Lepage, president, Telus Health. “Through Upopolis and our extensive work using innovative technology to drive better health outcomes for Canadians, we are privileged to help youth to stay connected to friends, family and others facing similar health challenges, as well as learn more about their health through access to online information in a safe and secure environment.”

KHLF and Telus Health launched the first Upopolis program in 2007 at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. Since then it has expanded to 23 hospitals and health organizations across Canada. The Upopolis team and Telus Health also work together to adapt the program to meet the specific needs of each facility, whether adding French language capabilities or information specific to mental health.

For more information about the Kids’ Health Links Foundation, visit kidshealthlinks.org.

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