Due to social distancing requirements, most hospitals and health care facilities are restricting visitors at this time. While this measure helps prevent the spread of, it has lead to the isolation of many patients. One New Jersey man, who knows first-hand how important it is to stay connected to ailing family members, was inspired to help other elderly patients see their loved ones.
Wildwood Crest resident John Lynch recently had to say a final goodbye to his father via FaceTime. His dad was at a memory care unit in Atlanta and because of restrictions, Lynch couldn't see him in person before he died.
After learning some nurse use their personal cell phones to help connect the patients with family, Lynch was inspired to help others in his situation.
His "Lunch with Lynch Foundation" usually focuses on providing learning experiences for children and assisting families with life threatening illnesses, a spokesperson told CBS News. Now, Lynch's foundation is committed to collecting donated iPads for health care facilities where patients are restricted from seeing their families in person.
Lynch calls it "Operation Connection: The iPad Project," and through the program, more than 60 iPads have been collected so far. The first 20 iPads collected went to Cape May County Medical Center and the rest will be distributed to nursing homes in Cape May County and hospitals across the country. The foundation is still accepting cash donations and new or gently used iPads.
Tom Piratzky, executive director of the Cape Regional Foundation, was thankful for the foundation's generosity. "Our families have told us how important it is and how much they really appreciate the opportunity to see their loved ones and talk to them," he said.
Katie Hinchey, whose grandmother was a recipient of one of the donated iPads, said she is grateful for Lunch. "When grandmother was taken by ambulance, they took nothing with her. No phone. No list of numbers. No pigeon to carry messages. So, when I called her room this morning and the nurse asked if we could FaceTime – all my fears disappeared," Hinchey said.
Lynch said he had been talking to his dad on FaceTime for the past two years. So, he knows how important technology is to connect separated families. "In the memory of my father, Hugh Lynch, I want to help people in the hospitals communicate with their family members," he said.