Nonprofit keeps families connected during pandemic with free tablets

CHARLOTTE — Throughout the pandemic, Channel 9 has heard from families who didn’t get to say goodbye to loved ones lost to COVID-19, and nurses have described being the only person there to comfort dying patients.

Eyewitness News anchor Brittney Johnson learned about a new nonprofit that is using technology to make lonely days a little brighter for people battling the virus and others who are isolated.

Sometimes, a tablet is the only connection some seniors or hospital residents have to loved ones. The nonprofit Covid Tech Connect is trying to get thousands of devices into hospitals and care facilities.

The activity manager at the Citadel in Myers Park said the lockdown was taking a toll on her residents, so she went searching for solutions online. She found Covid Tech Connect. They sent tablets in the mail and she set them up around the facility.

N. Celeste May told Channel 9 that she programmed residents loved ones’ information into the tablets so they could go right up and call someone they love. She had an opportunity to thank one of the founders of Covid Tech Connect during a Zoom interview with Channel 9.

“You have awakened people who thought that there was no hope,” May said. “You have given them that hope because they know that even though I can’t physically touch my family, I can see and be and meet with them as often as I possibly can through virtual technology.”

“It’s really heartening to know that it’s actually impactful and achieving what we had hoped it would because one of our co-founders actually lost her father to Covid in a care facility that took incredible care of him. But because he had Covid, he was not able to receive visitors. And so they didn’t get to say goodbye in person,” said Covid Tech Connect Co-Founder Anjali Kumar.

The organization has provided more than 9,000 devices to facilities across the country and several dozen places in the Carolinas, including Statesville, Rock Hill and Morganton.

Kumar said they have 8,000 more they want to send out.

The devices are free for care facilities. The nonprofit offers 5-15 per facility based on the greatest need.

If you’re interested in making a request for your device donations hospital or facility, you can fill out the request form on their website.