Text version of Courant article about St. Francis launch

Hospital Adds Reading Service

Narrated Recordings Allow Patients To Enjoy Newspapers, Magazines


[email protected]

HARTFORD — A Windsor-based nonprofit and St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center are collaborating to stream narrated recordings of articles from newspapers and magazines in English and Spanish for all patients directly through the televisions in their rooms.

Officials announced Tuesday that the hospital will stream recordings from CRIS Radio, also known as the Connecticut Radio Information System, which provides radio broadcast reading services for those who are sight-impaired or unable to turn pages of a publication because of a medical condition.

St. Francis is the first acute care hospital in the nation to offer the reading service in Spanish and the first in Connecticut to offer it in English, officials said. Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford offers reading services for its patients, according St. Francis President John Rodis.

The narrations will be recorded by volunteers for CRIS Radio, according to Executive Director Diane Weaver Dunne.

Rodis said the program initially was designed for patients who are sight-impaired or not proficient readers of English but it has now expanded to include all patients, especially those with physical conditions or who take medications that would make it hard to read a newspaper or magazine.

“I’m thrilled that we can offer this to our patients to give them a better experience,” Rodis said.

When Rodis’s father was hospitalized, his love of reading newspapers became a near-impossible task, he said. As someone who read three newspapers a day, according to Rodis, the change in his father’s ability to read news motivates him to provide this service at the hospital.

“Now, to think that someone like him could be in a hospital today — my own hospital at St. Francis — and be able to listen to the newspapers they want to is a great thing,” he said.

Weaver Dunne said she also had a personal motivator in completing this project since joining CRIS Radio in 2010. Like Rodis, her father was an avid newspaper reader before he died, she said.

“There are a lot of folks, just like my dad, sitting in a bed unable to pass the time,” she said. “This is an option to help inform them and pass their time.”

Carl Schiessl, director of regulatory advocacy for the Connecticut Hospital Association, lauded the collaboration between the two local entities.

“What’s truly inspiring to me is to see the leadership of Dr. Rodis and the willingness of everyone at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center to work with an area service provider, CRIS Radio, to take full advantage of the resources that are available and at our doorstep,” he said.

Schiessl said the move ultimately improves the strength of the community by adding to the level of care the hospital will provide.