For her birthday this year, a pediatric ER chief at a New York hospital thought of doing something for the greater good. Instead of getting herself a gift, the doctor wanted to help the people suffering most from this current health crisis: patients sick with COVID-19.
Dr. Ee Tay learned from her colleagues at the Bellevue Hospital that many COVID-19 patients were feeling lonely while recovering, but the worse cases are dying alone. No one is allowed to visit them in the isolation ward as part of restrictions meant to help stop the spread of the virus. Because of this, they have zero communication with their loved ones while in confinement. As a solution, the doctor thought of soliciting tablets they can use for video chatting.
“These doctors say the COVID patients are very isolated and lonely since families cannot visit them, and many of these patients are lower income and cannot afford the devices,” Tay wrote.
Thanks to the power of social media and the assistance of the Bank of New York Mellon, Tay was able to set up the donation of around 650 tablets to NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, including Bellevue Hospital. Other local facilities like Elmhurst and Jacobi were also included.
Support from families and friends is a significant factor in recovery. Tay believes that these tablets will help patients feel less alone during what is probably the scariest and most difficult time of their lives.
The chief of pediatric ER thought of securing tablets as talking over the phone would be hard for intubated patients or those on a ventilator. Besides, actually seeing their loved ones through video chatting applications will likely have a more powerful impact on their emotional and mental health.
“Since you can’t have somebody physically being there, this is the next best thing,” Tay said. “Even though the patients can’t necessarily speak to the family members, the family members [can] perhaps bid them goodbye and [send] well wishes and words of comfort during that time.”
She initially posted a plea for donations on her Facebook account. Eventually, her friends were able to help her collect about 50 new and used iPads and Amazon Kindles. Some of the electronics were shipped straight to the hospitals.
A few days after, a friend working for the Bank of New York Mellon informed the company about the pediatric ER’s project. Incredibly, the bank ended up contributing 600 more tablets. One hundred fifty pieces went to Bellevue, and 160 each went to Elmhurst and Jacobi.
The tablets will be placed at patients’ bedsides during their confinement, so they can video chat with their loved ones whenever they please. It will also be beneficial for medical staff since they often rely on their own gadgets to connect patients to their families.
Now that Tay has lots of tablets on hand, she’s planning to give the excess to other public hospitals and nursing homes in New York City. The doctor hopes that people who read about her story will take action and start a similar project in their own cities.
No one deserves to go through such a horrible experience alone. COVID-19 patients need all the love and support they can get during these trying times, and we can only hope that these tablets do the job of getting them the emotional comfort they urgently need.
This impactful project wouldn’t be made possible without Dr. Tay’s brilliant idea and the donors who contributed generously to her plea for help. Kudos to everyone involved in this initiative!