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No man is an island.
But for those who succumb to coronavirus from the confines of a hospital, they die alone – physically separated from friends and family who love them.
This cruel reality weighs heavily on a group of New York City volunteers whose mission is to virtually connect patients with family members who cannot attend due to hospital restrictions imposed on visitors
Their solution: recover used iPads across the country and donate it to hospitals in underserved communities where the need is greatest.
“It’s a heartbreaking visual”, Nicolas Heller, a 31-year-old documentary makersaid about the thousands of people who died from the disease in isolation, without the comforting words and touch of a loved one.
“Many of these people die prematurely, whether they have had medical problems or not. It’s overwhelming. There are no words,” said Heller, part of iPads in hospitals, an organization – founded by two medical students – which collects used iPads for patients who do not have smartphones capable of video chat.
Friday morning, the group announced that it had received 375 used iPads from donors nationwide and raised more than $ 22,000 through its GoFundMe page to buy more devices. So far, 50 iPads have been donated to the Brooklyn COVID-only site, the University Hospital of Brooklyn at SUNY Downstate, whose staff have expressed the critical impact that the devices can have on patients and healthcare professionals. health.
“The lifeblood of what we do is to use people’s iPads in their drawers and on their desks they no longer use,” said Ian Kaplan, a director from Brooklyn who spends his days unpacking donations. iPads from states like California, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts.
“I had all the makes and models of iPad ever made in my hands last week,” said Kaplan, 29. “With the exception of the first model, which does not have a camera, we can use any iPad.”
“Having said that, we are far from meeting the demand of each hospital we speak to,” he said, noting that the group has secured a supply flow with a supplier that allows it to purchase iPads. for just over $ 100 each.
“That’s about a third of what you could spend if you went to the Apple Store or Best Buy,” said Kaplan.
“I never felt like I was involved in something that would provide a service that would change someone’s life”
The organization was founded by Amy Johnson and Jeff Arace, medical students at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn. The group told Fox News how donated iPads could also benefit hospital staff with limited personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves. Electronic tablets can allow medical personnel to communicate with patients from outside the room, which reduces their risk of exposure to the virus.
“An iPad goes a long way with the number of people it can help,” said Shenara Musthaq, fourth-year medical student at SUNY Downstate and fellow volunteer.
Musthaq, 26, said she became ill with what she suspected was COVID-19 after developing respiratory symptoms, including fever, that lasted for several days.
“I had been out of service for about three weeks. It was definitely the sickest I have ever been,” she said. “I was on an inhaler.”
“I attended a lot of patients as a medical student and I was really nervous myself,” said Musthaq.
At a time of great uncertainty – when many Americans feel helpless in quarantine – the initiative to donate iPads to hospitals gave the group a sense of purpose and the satisfaction of knowing that they can help in a tangible way .
“Part of the reason why this project has captured the hearts and minds of those involved is that it feels like a challenge that can be resolved,” said Kaplan. “It’s something that everyone has the ability – in a few short steps – to convert something in their drawer into a connection that will have so much impact.”
“This is the most important thing I have ever participated in. I never felt like I was involved in something that will provide a service that will change someone’s life,” he added. “There is something about the terrible reality that brings everyone together.”