DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, many doctors have switched to using tele-health appointments to ensure their patients’ safety while getting them the care they need. However, many senior citizens lack the necessary technology to access medical appointments. Joanna Yu, a rising sophomore at Emory University and Elkins High School alumni, realized there was a simple solution: collect donated devices from friends and families to give to older Americans.

Joanna is working with the Texas chapter of TeleHealth Access for Seniors, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization started by college students that collects camera-enabled devices for elderly patients to access telehealth appointments. The nonprofit sanitizes the old phones, tablets, and laptops then donates them to clinics to give to patients. Aside from collecting old devices, the nonprofit’s volunteers also drive efforts to raise money to buy brand new devices. Then they are delivered to various clinics and VA Hospitals, and distributed to their older patients and veterans, along with a guide created by the nonprofit for the seniors on how to connect and use their new device. The organization has donated over 1000 devices nationwide.

As an undergraduate focused on medicine and public health, Joanna wants to help her local community to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. By partnering with Michael E. Debakey VA to donate devices, Joanna and the Texas chapter of volunteers are giving back to their community.

The unique nature of TeleHealth Access for Seniors is that millions of people have old devices but don’t know what to do with them. By getting these devices out to those in need, the members of TeleHealth Access for Seniors aim to help keep the elderly home instead of risking infections and death by going to the doctor’s office.

The need for dev ices across the nation continues to increase, and TeleHealth Access for Seniors is at work to help fill that demand. For more information or to donate a device, visit TeleHealthForSeniors.org.

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