With a higher risk of illness and coronavirus cases still on the rise, many older adults in North Carolina are still stuck at home, sometimes without the technology that could help keep them connected with friends, family — and their health care providers.
It's something that Brooke Chow, incoming UNC first-year and North Carolina lead for TeleHealth Access for Seniors, wants to help remedy.
Chow said her brother works in a hospital and brought up the disconnect from virtual patients to their caregivers.
“It all started when we noticed that a lot of military veterans and patients were not able to travel to medical facilities and hospitals anymore because of coronavirus,” Chow said. “Obviously one issue with this is a lot of people may not have access to a camera enabled device to video call their doctors.”
After a quick Google search, she found TeleHealth Access for Seniors, a501(c)(3)nonprofit started by high school and college students, that aims to connect senior and low-income patients with doctors through smartphones, laptops and tablets.
Spanning 26 states, TeleHealth Access for Seniors has donated over 1,000 devices and is partnered with 75 clinics, according to its website. Monetary donations are used to buy chargers and Amazon Fire tablets, Chow said.
Chow recently donated five tablets to the Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System’s Community Living Center. Erica Dickens, a creative arts therapist at the Durham VA, received the tablets.
“This is a great opportunity to connect technology even more with our existing programs,” Dickens said. “The tablets allow for us to continue our services with quarantine precautions.”
The Durham VA has had tablet donations from Telehealth Access for Seniors as well as other organizations, Dickens said. The tablets will be used in individual and group settings to provide recreational therapy and will allow for veterans to connect with their families for virtual visits.