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TeleHealth Access for Seniors provides senior citizens with smart devices to access health care, contact family

Brown, Yale students are the Rhode Island leads for nonprofit founded in March

TeleHealth Access for Seniors, a nonprofit, provides smart devices to low-income and elderly patients across the country, helping them remain connected with health services, as well as family and friends.  

“We found a problem with a lot of seniors not having access to their doctors because they don’t have a device,” said Lorelle Sun GS, a Brown University master’s student and Rhode Island co-lead for TAS. “Having a device is essential for staying connected to family and health care providers while reducing risk of COVID-19.”

The nonprofit was founded by three students at Yale and a high school student in March amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brooke Milosh, a Yale student who lives on the Rhode Island-Massachusetts border, joined Sun as a Rhode Island co-lead in June. “One of the communities that is most commonly ignored is seniors — especially because during the pandemic they couldn't even get out. I could see this with my own grandparents. When I heard that a lot of these seniors did not even have a device that they could use to contact family and physicians, I realized that just by raising a little bit of money, it could make such a big difference in their health outcome,” Milosh said.  

Many elderly people “are dealing with a lot of loneliness and depression, and working with these seniors to use these devices is a really good way to help them feel less isolated from the world,” Sun said. 

In addition to managing a team of volunteers, Sun and Milosh hold fundraising campaigns, apply for grants and partner with clinics to reach those in need. The money TAS raises is used to buy devices for seniors. TAS also collects used devices, but small monetary donations are more convenient, Sun said. 

One of the biggest challenges the team faced was fundraising money. Sun said she overcame that by recruiting additional volunteers, applying for grants and working with local businesses and banks with “large charity foundations who are willing to donate to people especially during this pandemic,” Sun said. 

In an effort to raise money, Milosh also made an online campaign on Facebook. She said she likes to paint, and sent prints of her own artwork and offered commissioned paintings to people who donated certain amounts of money. “That was really fun for me because it was a way of channeling something that I’ve loved doing for myself into helping other people,” Milosh said. 

“The biggest joy is knowing that, for the seniors I am helping and giving devices to, their lives are profoundly impacted,” Sun said. The devices impact the lives of not only the people receiving the tablets, but also their families and doctors. Sun said, for example, that some seniors they have helped are homeless and can use their tablets to access resources about housing or gain more information about COVID-19. 

Milosh said tablet drop-offs were particularly rewarding, as the volunteers are “able to actually see people’s faces, and the way that they react means a lot.”

“A device is a way for me to connect with my own grandmother. I’m at Brown and my family lives all the way in California, and my only way to connect with her on a daily basis is through a tablet. Volunteering with this nonprofit is a personal way of honoring my grandparents,” Sun said.



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