By Eliza Mabey
A national organization called Telehealth Access for Seniors has risen because of the novel coronavirus and volunteers from local towns and all over the state have been collecting electronic donations. The purpose of the organization is to provide camera-enabled devices and electronic instructions to elders and individuals in low-income communities so that they can participate in doctors’ appointments via Telehealth. VT state lead volunteer Lia Rubel along with VT volunteers, Eliza Mabey, Thea Pappas, Gavin Schaaf, Mimi Hsu, Erica Paton, Zoe MacDonanald, and Justin Lee will be working to supply veterans at the White River Junction VA Medical Center with electronic devices.
As people become older, they become more vulnerable to illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 85% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition and 60% have at least two conditions. With that being said, the CDC also says that those with serious medical conditions like chronic illnesses may be at higher risk for severe illnesses from COVID-19. Therefore it’s important to concentrate and provide additional support to this age group. Individuals in low-income communities also may not have enough income to purchase expensive devices to connect with doctors; without electronics, their health and wellbeing may suffer.
Telehealth is important because if actions aren’t taken to provide sufficient care to people during the pandemic, an increase in hospitalizations may occur and healthcare centers will become overwhelmed.
Important to our health and wellbeing is our mental health. Social distancing during the coronavirus has left many feeling stressed and anxious. Having devices that enable those to connect with people will alleviate this stress.
How Can You Help?
Telehealth Access for Seniors has a GoFundMe fundraiser where donations can be made to. The site is: https://www.gofundme.com/f/telehealth-access-for-seniors and is very easy to navigate. Local Upper Valley volunteer Eliza Mabey is collecting camera-enabled smart devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and charging cords. Mabey can answer questions or concerns locals may have about their donations or how to receive them as well. She can be reached by email at [email protected]
So far, the organization has donated 750 devices, raises $18,000, has partnered with 55 clinics, has currently 155 volunteers, and has positively impacted 26 states.
According to the organization’s website: https://www.telehealthforseniors.org, Telehealth or Telemedicine involves both an audio component and a visual component and has shown to, increase compliance, reduce patient costs, decrease hospitalization, and provide more personalized care. Devices have also shown to, decrease the loneliness epidemic, increase activeness, and reduce wellness costs.