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Wellesley Alumna, Dr. Jenny Chang, Creates Virtual Visitation Program for COVID Patients

We are grateful for all those serving on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic, including the countless members of the Wellesley community. 

Below is the story of Dr. Jenny Chang, who has been spearheading an initiative with her residency program at Jacobi Montefiore EM Residency to provide patients with donated iPads so that they can have a virtual visitation with their loved ones while they are hospitalized.

Thank you, Dr. Chang for your compassionate care, and to all members of the Wellesley community who were able to participate in this initiative.

 

I am an ER doctor working on the frontlines of Montefiore Medical Center and Jacobi Medical Center. We serve primarily the underinsured and underserved communities in Bronx, NYC. As you all know, NYC, the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the USA, has been devastated by the pandemic. The various hospital systems have instituted a no visitation policy to contain the spread of the disease. While a necessity for the safety of the public health, it is unfortunately a cruelty to the patient. Many critically ill and dying patients are unable to communicate or say a final farewell to their loved ones. Many of them are dying alone and dying lonely.

My colleagues and I witnessed firsthand the suffering and isolation of our patients and their families and decided to advocate for them. As providers, we cannot even begin to imagine the loneliness and fear these patients must feel or fathom the sorrow and helplessness of their families. I spearheaded an initiative to crowdsource iPads and purposely load them with software to facilitate the communication between patients and their loved ones. It has now become an hospital-wide operation and we are already seeing the results of its implementation.

Previously, I had been passing hand written letters between patients and their family members. This is not feasible for many patients, when they are too weak to write as they struggle to breathe. Now, patients and families are given the opportunity to see each other again. These patients are able to experience the joy of knowing they are loved. This is an initiative near and dear to my heart given that we primarily serve minorities, who have fared much worse than the general public. As an Asian American, one of my primary drivers is to close the the gap amongst the quality of health care we deliver to different genders, races, and socioeconomic classes.

Ironically, a tablet that seemly separated the human connection now strengthens the bond of humanity. These tablets are bringing hope, faith, dignity, and comfort to our patients. May these virtual connections continue to soothe their souls and may the spirit of our patients strengthen that of our nation.