KITCHENER -- Internet access is still down at St. Mary's General Hospital following a cyber incident last week.

The hospital said patient data wasn't impacted by the incident, but some patients have fewer options when it comes to connecting with family.

Pat Lewis said her 83-year-old father has been in and out of the hospital since February.

"The care there is excellent and everything," she said.

She said his hospitalization isn't related to COVID-19, but that doesn't make it any easier.

"There's no window, there's no noises expected for hospital noises," Lewis said.

Lewis said her father uses the internet on his tablet provided by the hospital to play games, watch movies and connect with loved ones. She added the lack of internet is starting to affect her father's mood.

"Mentally because he's really exhausted with being sick," she said. "This is just making things worse."

“Patients are still able to use their personal devices to access the internet throughout the hospital, through their service provider," Patrick Moore with St. Mary's Hospital said in an emailed statement. "We are also exploring ways to bring in temporary internet capacity make online visits easier.”

Cheryl-Anne Cait from the Faculty of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University said maintaining a connection with loved ones is key during the pandemic.

"It can really reduce somebody suffering to know that they can be able to connect with someone and see somebody's face," she said. "Without being able to do that now, with respect to COVID and the protocols around visiting people, video is the next best."

Ontario's Patient Ombudsman, Craig Thompson, said they encourage "creative and outside the box thinking" to make sure patients can stay connected during internet service interruptions.

"This is an incredibly challenging and stressful time for everyone in our healthcare system but keeping patients and residents connected to caregivers is an essential service," an emailed statement from Thompson said in part.

St. Mary's officials said they're working to restore full internet service as quickly as possible.