Between February 1, and May 23, 2020, 91% of all deaths from COVID-19 occurred in a medical center or nursing home, according to a recent study published in July. The authors of the study called on care facilities to make virtual technology available to keep all critically ill patients connected with loved ones and support compassionate end-of-life transitions. On August 17, a new project called COVID Tech Connect announced that it is now shipping 16,000 devices to U.S. hospitals expressly for that purpose.
In March, as the pandemic began to sweep through the United States, six women who are leaders in the tech industry came together to conceptualize — and then quickly fund and mobilize — COVID Tech Connect. Driven by the opportunity to use technology to provide emotional support for the critically ill despite the overwhelming circumstances of the crisis, Anjali Kumar, Benish Shah, Christina Wallace, Katie Stanton, Kristina Libby, and Sara Rodell lead a growing team through rapid set up and management of the initiative.
After securing fiscal sponsorship from The Giving Back Fund, followed by a successful GoFundMe campaign, the project placed 6,000 new devices in more than 40 hospitals and hospice centers around the country. The increase in devices now shipping was made possible by a grant from Google.org, device donations from Google, and additional financial and in-kind support from other organizations as well as ongoing individual contributions.
Celebrities like Natalie Portman, Arianna Grande, and Ellen Degeneres have made donations and spread the word about COVID Tech Connect on Twitter and The Ellen Show. That kind of buzz will help COVID Tech Connect provide more hospitals with devices while expanding shipments to senior care facilities and hospice centers.
Manufacturers can find info about donating wifi-enabled, unused smart devices, and care facilities can apply to receive up to 15 devices, at covidtechconnect.com. Individuals who wish to support the project can make a donation on the project’s GoFundMe page.