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Students step in to help seniors and low-income patients access telehealth services

Washington volunteers with Telehealth Access for Seniors are providing phones and tablets so people can safely connect with healthcare providers. #newdaynw

SEATTLE — As the coronavirus pandemic hits, a lot of seniors and high-risk patients are having difficulties connecting with healthcare providers and families. Five Washingtonian students, working with Telehealth Access for Seniors, recognized the problem and are now donating phones and tablets to those who need them.

"For me, it means just helping the community, because I recognize that there are some people who are more at risk for this COVID crisis," said volunteer and Bellevue High School student, Ian McKnight.

Student volunteers are a mix of college and high school attendees. "Sophia is from Mercer Island (High School), Nhu goes to the University of Washington, and Katie attends Johns Hopkins University," said the volunteer leader, Grace Chen. 

They are collecting devices from neighborhoods across the greater Seattle area as well as corporate sponsorships from AT&T, Costco, and Goldman Sachs. 

Volunteer Leader, Grace Chen, says people are enthusiastic to participate, "I visited the same neighborhood in Redmond, like three times just because the first donor there was so excited about our cause that he reached out to the rest of his neighbors and more people donated." 

When a device is donated, the team sanitizes them, does a factory reset to wipe the device clean of any information from the previous owner, and gets it to a beneficiary.  The tech device setup team then gives beneficiaries a walkthrough on how to use their new device.

Tech setup guides are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Korean, and Vietnamese for devices and for common needs like setting up a Gmail account.

Tagoipah Mathno, Foundation Development Coordinator at the International District Medical & Dental Clinic, appreciates the work the students are doing and their ability to recognize big-picture issues, "They noticed that there is a big gap in terms of education around technology. The fact that they were able to get a solution and go around for donation that’s user friendly, has been really, really amazing." 

Telehealth Access for Seniors was started in Connecticut by some of Grace's classmates at Yale University. Since their first launch in March 2020, they have extended to 26 states and have over 300 volunteers.

To volunteer or donate devices, visit the Telehealth Access for Seniors website. If you donate funds and want to ensure they are directed to the State of Washington, select Nhu Nguyen as your referral when you contribute.  

Segment Producer Gloria Angelin. Watch New Day Northwest 11 AM weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com. Contact New Day.