Recent Hamden High Graduate Creates Non-Profit to Help Elderly Connect

Donate Old Camera Enabled Devices:

Your Chance to have a Direct Impact on a Senior in Need

June 13th at The Scoop Girl (Donate a Device and get 20% off your Ice Cream)

June 5th, 2020

by Diana Natti Theriault

One of the many things that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed about our world, is how we interact with our physicians. Telemedicine has become the only way for doctors to safely see patients these past few months, as in person visits carry too much risk.

Checking in with your doctor virtually has become an easy way for us all to maintain our health and wellness. But, imagine not having access to a device with a camera. Many of our seniors, the most at risk in our community, can not afford to upgrade to a smart phone or other camera enabled device, and are being left out of this new normal in medicine.

Aakshi Agarwal, a recent Hamden High graduate, saw this gap in telemedicine, and has been working to help provide our seniors with the devices they need.

Agarwal, and Hannah Verma, both rising seniors at Yale, began Telehealth Access for Seniors, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit pending organization, about twelve weeks ago. The two were sent home from Yale due to the pandemic, and Aakshi saw that “around us there were a lot of people, with a lot of suffering, a lot of pain, from economic issues, and health issues.” She wanted to help. Verma’s parents are both doctors, and expressed their concern that many of their elderly patients had only flip phones, and thus would not have access to virtual appointments.

Asking people to donate their old devices seemed like a solution that would not only help the elderly have access to their doctors, it would also have an impact on the social well being of the patients, allowing them to see their friends and loved ones in video calls.

As of today, the group has donated over 700 devices to clinics across the country. They have roughly 125 volunteers and work with 55 partner clinics in 26 states.

Recognizing that technology can often be a hurdle for our seniors, the group also provides free educational resources, such as printable guides to help teach people how to use the various video call platforms, like Skype and Zoom. They also have free tech support, so seniors can speak directly to a student volunteer who will help troubleshoot any problems or answer any questions.

Agarwal sees the trend in telemedicine continuing on, even after the pandemic is over. “All of the clinics I am taking to, and all the different types, whether it be a community health clinic, VA Hospital, or private practice, they are all saying that telemedicine is really going to be the future for them.”

How many old devices do you have in your home? Since many of us upgrade our phones every few years, and depending on how many in our family are “connected” we are often left with a stockpile of old devices gathering dust. We are waiting to get rid of them, thinking perhaps one day we may need them. What better time to do some spring cleaning?

Dig those old phones out of the drawer and bring them down to The Scoop Girl on June 13th, and you will not only be directly helping a senior in your community, you will also get 20% off your Ice Cream!

Visit the Telehealth Access for Seniors website to get directions on donating your devices, or to make a monetary donation. Be sure to do a factory reset on your devices, to purge all personal data, prior to donation.

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