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Students create non-profit to deliver smart devices to the elderly and low-income communities

Shared by Ana Ribeiro on 2020-08-13 18:37

About the solution

During the Covid-19 pandemic, seniors were one of the demographic groups most at risk. And, while those living in nursing home and assisted living facilities were taken care of by a network of support, many other seniors who lived by themselves were feeling the impact of the pandemic. Because a great majority of the elderly population is not familiarly with technology and doesn’t have access to smart devices, they were left particularly isolated. Not only from their loved ones but also from their physicians, being faced with the difficult decision of either going to the hospital and putting themselves at risk or staying at home and neglecting their medical care.

Aware of this issue, and seeing firsthand the struggles faced by their own grandparents, a group of Yale students decided to take action and start a nonprofit association called Telehealth Access for Seniors. Through the association, they provide devices and tech support to elder and low-income patients, who otherwise would not have access to technology. “Our goal is really to bring telemedicine access to thousands of low-income patients”, stated Aakshi Agarwal, co-founder of the organization.

For the students, it was important to focus not only on the elder but also on low-income communities, who were being particularly hit by the side effects of the pandemic. “Very impoverished patients don’t have devices. No one else has ever asked them if they have a device for telemedicine”, explains Aakshi.

The movement started in New York but has since expanded to 26 states across the USA. More than 1750 devices have been donated and they have partnered with 88 local healthcare facilities. More than 300 volunteers collect the donated devices, sanitize them, assure they are in good working condition and install the TeleHealth Software. Then, they give the devices to their partner facilities that are then responsible for distributing the devices to the patients who are most in need.

However, more than just distributing the devices, the students wanted to make sure that the user would be able to navigate them. So, they have created user manuals to explain how to set up the devices, how to use videoconference platforms like Facetime, how to connect to WiFi or how to order medication and groceries online. The guides are free and are available in 5 different languages. In addition, the students also run a live tech support helpline to help with any issue that comes up.

“We started this organization to help patients in need. We firmly believe that demographic factors, like age or income, should never determine one's access to a basic human right. We hope that you'll join us in helping out nation's most vulnerable populations achieve access to tele-health”, is the organization's mission.

Adapted from: https://nowthisnews.com/news/nonprofit-helps-elderly-low-income-patients...
https://www.norwoodnews.org/tech-savvy-students-connect-elderly-with-hea...

This solution shall not include mention to the use of drugs, chemicals or biologicals (including food); invasive devices; offensive, commercial or inherently dangerous content. This solution was not medically validated. Proceed with caution! If you have any doubts, please consult with a health professional.

About the author

Aakshi Agarwal, Hannah Verma, Arjun Verma and Siddharth Jain are students who founded the Telehealth Access For Seniors nonprofit association. They provide seniors and low-income communities with devices, instructions, and free tech-support to connect them to their physician, friends and family during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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