As the COVID pandemic has taken over the globe and changed life as we know it, it has also changed access to healthcare, especially for seniors, who are the most at risk of contracting and suffering from COVID. One way healthcare practitioners have combated this problem is by offering TeleHealth appointments. However, this can be a problem for senior citizens as well as low-income people, who might not have access to the devices that make remote care possible.The four Yale University students who founded TeleHealth Access for Seniors saw this crisis of access, and put together some solutions.
TeleHealth Access for Seniors delivers donated digital devices to patients in need. These devices can put patients into contact with their doctors, but also with family and friends which helps to reduce isolation and improve mental health.
“We firmly believe that demographic factors, like age or income, should never determine one’s access to a basic human right,” said the four founders.
Virginia co-leads Sneha Thandra and Rachana Subbanna, as well as other volunteers help to collect, clean, record, and distribute devices. So far, they have donated 27 devices to Charlottesville Free Clinic and 27 devices to INOVA Health foundation. Their current mission is to fulfill INOVA’s demand for seventy to ninety devices.
“TeleHealth Access for Seniors was a great way for us to get involved and help people during COVID,” said Thandra, a third year at Emory University pursuing premed.
Subbanna agreed. “Around March, when we got the email that we had to go home and resume classes online, all of our clubs in person got canceled. So this seemed like a great way to help people without putting others or ourselves at risk.”
Nationally, the organization has had 2500 devices donated and over 120 thousand dollars raised. The organization is asking for camera enabled smart devices including Androids, iPhones 4s and above, as well as Amazon Fire devices.
Volunteer Tanvi Nallanagula stated: “The organization has a lot of benefits outside of COVID and outside of quarantine. Regardless of the illness that the senior has, there are a lot of elderly people who can’t leave their house, regardless of whether they’re in quarantine a lot. Having devices helps them a lot with medical needs. We also have a tech staff that can help them figure out how to use the mobile device and that helps them socially, helps them get access togroceries and helps them talk to friends and family.”
To donate funds or a device, or to learn more about TeleHealth Access for seniors, visit to https://www.telehealthforseniors.org/ .