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Patients and visitors at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital will soon have access to free Wi-Fi. (Google Maps)

Patients and visitors at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH) will now be able to access free Wi-Fi thanks to the Nanaimo Hospital Auxiliary, a long-standing all-volunteer organization.

“The Auxiliary is committed to supporting patient comfort,” said Auxiliary President Phil Robling on Wednesday. “We are happy to be able to provide this amenity to patients and guests at NRGH and make it a little easier from them to use their email or access the internet while they’re here.”

Costs for public Wi-Fi at the hospital are estimated to run $5,000 annually. That fee will be covered by the Auxiliary, which has raised more than $3 million for NRGH in the last 10 years.

“We’re very pleased to be able to provide the funding that will support this amenity at our hospital,” Robling said.

The service will be provided within the hospital’s existing Wi-Fi system without adding any new wireless signals or access points, according to Island Health.

The free Wi-Fi will support basic internet browsing, but not higher bandwidth activities like high-definition video streaming. Users can access the service by connecting to the service “IslandHealthGuestWiFi.

Hospitals petitioned to provide free Wi-Fi access

NRGH is just the second hospital on Vancouver Island to provide free public Wi-Fi to patients and visitors; the first was the new two-campus North Island Hospital that opened last fall.

A petition was started last April to push more hospitals to offer the free internet access nationwide, though it only received about 526 signatures at time of writing.

In fact, Victoria’s own Royal Jubilee Hospital was mentioned specifically. “We started this to show the Royal Jubilee Hospital the need/want of free internet access,” the petition reads.

Island Health said its goal is to expand public Wi-Fi to other facilities in the future, but a timeline has not yet been determined.

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