Sarah Shabih, a Charleston native who serves as the West Virginia lead of the student-funded, nonprofit TeleHealth Access for Seniors organization, is soliciting donations of used electronic devices and financing funding for new ones for elderly Kanawha County residents.
TeleHealth Access for Seniors collects and donates used and new camera-enabled devices to veterans’ hospitals and clinics, providing their elderly patients the ability to connect with their physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The unique nature of what we do is that millions of people have old devices but don’t know what to do with them. I am currently collecting devices for low-income, elderly patients at the clinics of Cabin Creek Health System in Kanawha County,” Shabih said.
“We also provide free set-up guides and tech support so seniors can more easily navigate their tech devices.”
Cabin Creek Health System operates clinics in Dawes, Belle, Kanawha City, Clendenin, and Sissonville, as well as the Sunnyside Health Center inside the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department in downtown Charleston. The CCHS website also lists school-based clinics in Miami, Elkview, East Bank, Belle, and Sissonville.
Shabih, a George Washington High School graduate and senior at Emory University, explained how she became involved with TeleHealth Access for Seniors several months ago at the Atlanta school.
“When I came across this nonprofit’s efforts and saw that there was no representative in West Virginia, I immediately felt an obligation to expand its efforts to my home state,” she said. “Unfortunately, many elderly patients tend to require continuous medical attention. The transition to telemedicine, despite its attempts at reducing transmission within a clinical setting, rendered many low-income, elderly populations, especially those in West Virginia, disconnected from physicians due to limited access to technology.
“In facilitating the opportunity for these underserved individuals to access immediate medical care, we can prevent unnecessary physician visits and ultimately reduce their risk of infection by providing them with tech devices.”
Shabih and other TeleHealth Access for Seniors representatives have donated more than 2,600 devices to VA hospitals and low-income clinics.
“We also have 375 volunteers, are working in 26 states, and have raised over $130,000 on a national level,” she said.
Shabih delivered 14 devices earlier this year to residents of the Morgantown Veterans Center. She said the devices assist them in accessing mental health, cardiology, pulmonology, and other appointments. In July, Shabih donated three smart, camera-enabled devices to the Hershel Woody Williams VA Medical Center in Huntington, as well.
Shabih said the demand exceeds 3,000 devices and every $50 donation can purchase a new device. Donations can be made online at www.telehealthforseniors.org/support-us. Donors should select “West Virginia” as the state requested so funds will go to West Virginia agencies, she added.
A GoFundMe account for the donations has also been set up. To contribute there, visit www.gofundme.com and search for “telehealth-access-for-seniors.”