Crown Point High School sophomore Charlotte Annes wanted to find a way to give back during the pandemic. By teaming up with a student-run organization, she is helping Northwest Indiana senior citizens and veterans connect with their healthcare providers through technology.
Charlotte and her mother, Izabela Annes, delivered eight laptop computers and an iPhone XR to Franciscan Health Crown Point on Jan. 15. The COVID-19 pandemic “puts the elderly population at serious risk from the virus,” Charlotte said. “A lot of seniors don’t have devices to use telemedicine services.”
Franciscan will put the technology to work as part of its TeleHealth program, which connects doctors and patients via online video, reducing the risk of an in-person visit.
“Since the start of the pandemic we have been striving to quickly expand our technological capabilities to improve the ways in which we deliver care. We have leveraged virtual technology to not only allow our patients to communicate with their loved ones outside the hospital but also to improve how our team provides direct patient care, coordinates with one another and engages with our patients,” said Dr. Erik Mikaitis, vice president of medical affairs at Franciscan Health Crown Point.
When she was researching non-profit organizations, Charlotte came upon TeleHealth for Seniors, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that was founded by four Yale University students. The organization has volunteers in 26 states, who have collected more than 3,200 devices and raised over $180,000.
Charlotte serves as the Indiana lead for Telehealth for Seniors, donating 39 devices, including 12 new Amazon Fire tablets to the Veterans’ Administration outpatient clinic in Crown Point thanks to a $1,000 donation from the Crown Point Community Foundation. “It really does feel good to help out these people,” she said.
And the help doesn’t end with the donation. Tech support flyers in English and Spanish are available for seniors who might be technologically challenged. “If patients have any questions on how to use their devices, we have tech support seven days a week, and that is also student-led” Charlotte said.
Charlotte’s parents, Jason and Izabela Annes, have been supportive of her efforts. “They really like the organization and what we do, and they’re very proud of me,” said Charlotte, who hopes to eventually enter the medical field.
Dr. Mikaitis said the donation fills a need, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. “This has helped us to prioritize safety and compassion during these unprecedented times. Ms. Annes’ incredibly generous donation will go a long way to helping us expand upon that work. Her thoughtfulness and support are greatly appreciated by our entire team at Franciscan Health Crown Point,” he said.
To learn more, or to donate to Telehealth for Seniors, go online at telehealthforseniors.org and hit the donate button. Camera-enabled devices that are still functioning are accepted after filling out a form about the device. A volunteer will arrange a pickup or have the device shipped. Monetary donations, which go toward the purchase of devices, go to the organization’s GoFundMe page.