Carolyn Kim wanted to know what she could do.
The Plano resident had come home from college in Boston in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. While she stayed at home, she saw her dad leave every day for work without a break to work with COVID-19 patients.
After looking around for ways to volunteer, a friend from Yale told her about Telehealth Access for Seniors, a student-led nonprofit aiming to help seniors and low-income patients get access to telemedicine services through donated used camera-enabled devices. The organization kicked off around March, Kim said.
Kim is now a volunteer with the national organization’s Dallas team, which partnered with The Hope Clinic of McKinney to coordinate a donation drop-off for those devices.
Through the organization, Kim learned about the plight of individuals like seniors with chronic conditions in the midst of the pandemic.
“I cannot imagine the hesitancy in choosing between essential medical care and risking COVID-19 infection that could be preemptively avoided through proper and necessary access to medical providers through telemedicine,” she said.
The drop-off event, which occurred on Friday, served to give five devices to the clinic, which would in turn give those devices to patients, Kim said. The Hope Clinic of McKinney’s mission to help low-income and uninsured McKinney residents served as a connection point between the two organizations.
For Kim, who is looking ahead to taking the Medical College Admission Test, Telehealth Access for Seniors’s mission hit close to home. Added to that was the fact that her father is a physician.
“Just seeing him tirelessly day in and day out from the morning to the night directly meeting up with these COVID patients, but here me just at home in the comfort of air conditioning, I wanted to kind of do what I can to just kind of broaden the access that these people had to get in touch with their healthcare providers,” she said.
She said people like her father are also using camera-enabled devices to talk with patients and provide telemedicine services.
“But the fact is a lot of these clinics don't have those accesses, or the patients themselves don't have these devices,” she said. “So any way that I could to kind of help these patients who are disproportionately affected by this pandemic, I was more than happy to volunteer.”
In addition to donating devices, the organization also provides guides that will allow patients to navigate using the technology, Kim said.
While Friday’s drop-off event has come and gone, Kim said there are still opportunities to support the organization’s efforts. The organization’s website gives the option for donating a device, volunteering or giving funds through a GoFundMe page.
Kim said she thought her parents were happy to see that she was still getting involved in the wake of the pandemic.
“It's easy to kind of just focus on yourself and just kind of throw everything else out the window,” she said, “but I think they were just happy to still see me engaging with the local community and still doing what I can here in the Dallas area despite being between Dallas and Boston for college.”
Andrea Naff, operations manager with The Hope Clinic of McKinney, said they have already seen people whose devices are broken or not functioning correctly.
“So we can already see big ways that we’re going to be able to use these and get telehealth into more peoples’ hands,” she said.