Gift will help patients connect electronically

CARIBOU, Maine — TeleHealth Access for Seniors, an entirely student-run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has donated video-chat-capable devices to Cary Medical Center to benefit seniors, veterans and low-income populations in the area.  

TeleHealth Access for Seniors is a national program now in 26 states. The organization has donated more than 1,000 devices and raised $41,000.  

Jay Philbrick, a recent graduate of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone, serves as both the leader of the Maine branch of TeleHealth for Seniors as well as the organization’s advocacy director, urging government officials to support legislation that promotes and better funds telehealth as part of the nation’s healthcare system.  

“We provide these devices free of charge,” Philbrick said. He explained the benefits of the devices.  

“We provide them to VA hospitals and primary care providers so that they can provide telehealth services to Veterans and seniors who would otherwise be unable to access them.  This allows these vulnerable individuals to attend doctor’s appointments from their homes without fear of contracting COVID-19, and to combat the epidemic of loneliness in our country,” Philbrick said.

According to Philbrick, the organization also provides free technical support and user guides to seniors so that they can better take advantage of the technology.

“Here in Maine, we have collected more than 15 devices and over $200, and we have used our funds to purchase tablets for Cary to enable telehealth services for their elderly patients,” said Philbrick, who delivered the devices to the hospital.

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated a major increase in the use of telehealth and telemedicine.  David Silsbee, chief information officer at Cary, said that the hospital was delighted to receive the donation from the student organization.

“We have been increasing the use of telehealth since the pandemic began,” said Silsbee.

“We recognize that the cost of these devices may not be within reach of seniors or other low income individuals.  These students have really created a very special program and we intend to utilize the devices they have provided to benefit the patients we serve,” Silsbee said.

In addition to the telehealth benefit of the donated devices, Silsbee said they may also be used to assist patients in connecting with family members while in the hospital.

“Due to the COVID 19 crisis we have had to dramatically restrict our visitation policies,” said Silsbee, who has served at Cary for over 40 years. “We will make some of these devices available to our older adult patients so that they can do ‘Face-Time’ and connect with loved ones using technology.”

Working with Philbrick in Maine are Emma Raven of North Yarmouth, Clare Boone of Belfast, Sarah Kuptchik of Madawaska and Will Whitman of Swan’s Island.

Submitted by the Community Relations and Development Office of Cary Medical Center.

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