Long Beach, CA, August 24, 2020 - One of the more poignant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is that because the virus transmits so easily, those fighting it in hospitals often have to do so alone. Patients are not able to have their loved ones by their side in some of their hardest — and sometimes last — moments.
Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar, CA, wanted to ensure that their patients suffering with COVID-19 symptoms were able to connect with their loved ones, if not in person then at least virtually. They recently teamed up with human-I-T, a California-based nonprofit that provides technology and information access to low-income individuals, to provide 30 tablets for their COVID-19 patients to stay connected with loved ones while maintaining social distancing and self-isolation protocols.
Olive View is a public safety net hospital located in California’s San Fernando Valley. The center serves a community of nearly two million residents, and the majority of patients are low-income, primarily Spanish-speaking, and undocumented. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on these groups — around 25% of Olive View’s patients are being treated for the virus — underscoring the need for patients to have tools that allow them to connect with loved ones while receiving medical care.
“I had a patient, a young woman in her early 30s, who came in positive [for COVID-19] and was pretty sick, and she’s a single mom with a young daughter,” noted Dr. Soma Wali, Chair of Internal Medicine at Olive View. “She said that she had to leave because her daughter wouldn’t be able to fall asleep without knowing where her mom is. She was upset because she wasn’t able to see her daughter in person, but when I told her we’d bring her a computer so she could talk to her daughter, that brought a smile to her face. That’s when I reached out to [human-I-T].”
Responding to Olive View’s need for devices to help keep their patients connected, the nonprofit quickly delivered the tablets to hospital staff. Not only have the tablets allowed patients to video chat with their loved ones, but they’ve also had a positive impact on the overall morale of both patients and staff throughout the hospital.
“[Having tablets to connect with loved ones] preserves their humanity at the end of the day,” said Dr. Laxmi Suthar, Program Director for Olive View’s Internal Medicine Residency. “When a patient feels isolated because everybody is gowned up head-to-toe and they can’t even see you smiling at them, being able to see their loved ones’ faces has a huge, huge healing component.”
human-I-T is a nonprofit committed to inspiring and empowering people through technology and information to achieve their full potential. With more than 82 million Americans lacking access to a computer with Internet in their home, primarily because of cost, we promote digital inclusion and access by offering programs that provide technology, high-speed Internet access, tech support services, and free digital literacy training. We divert unwanted technology away from landfills, refurbish it, and redistribute it to those in need.
To learn more about how our programs can help you, or how you can support our mission, please visit www.human-i-t.org.