Tablet to Tablet: Chasidic Volunteers Connect Hospitalized Coronavirus Patients with their Families

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NEW YORK (VINnews/Sandy Eller) – A group of Chasidic men have spent hours setting up and delivering tablets to hospitalized coronavirus patients in the New York City area, allowing them to stay connected to their families despite a strict no-visitors-allowed policy put in place to limit the spread of the deadly pandemic.

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A volunteer who asked to be identified only as Shloimy said that the joint effort involves approximately 1,000 specialized social media tablets that were bought by a Chasidic man about a year ago. When word began to spread that patients were feeling extremely isolated,the idea of using the tablets to give them the ability to communicate
with family members began to take shape and the devices were programmed to connect to the various WiFi systems at Weill Cornell Medical System, Columbia University Medical Center, NYU Hospital, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Lenox Hill Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital.

“Every hospital has a different system and we had to make sure that each device would work in every hospital since we don’t know where it will end up,” Shloimy told VIN News. “At NYU, every single device has to have its own username and passcode while at other hospitals you just have to connect to the WiFi.”

Every tablet loaned to a patient is paired to a tablet being used by their family, with MiFi mobile hotspots given to those that don’t have WiFi in their homes.

Because visitation policies are extremely restrictive, getting tablets to patients is no small matter.

Some have been delivered with food packages sent to patients through hospital-approved channels, while others have been given directly to patients as they are brought in to the hospital.

According to Shloimy, more than 500 tablets have been loaned out so far to patients and their families, who live throughout New York City as well as in Monsey, Kiryas Joel and New Jersey. Volunteer Avromi said that the feedback from both patients and their families has been overwhelmingly positive and the group received a pre-Pesach picture
from one family showing the tablet perched on a shelf so that a hospitalized family member could share in their Pesach Seder.

“The kids were able to ask their father the Four Questions and the father was able to reply and see the Seder live,” said Shloimy.

The tablet project is a volunteer effort for now, with several coordinators and numerous volunteers spending hours programming the tablets and standing outside hospitals to make sure that the devices are connecting properly to WiFi.

“We aren’t an official organization,” said Shloimy, who often sings for hospital patients. “We are just a group of yungerleit looking to do this l’shem shomayim.”

For more information on the hospital tablet project call 917 999 0102


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