UVA students giving people greater access to telemedicine

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — Almost all medical visits at the Charlottesville Free Clinic were done remotely between March and May. That’s a huge help for people who have devices, but those that don’t also don’t have access to medical care. 

The clinic is crucially important for the 2,600 uninsured or under-insured people who go there.

A group of students at the University of Virginia has a solution.

“We’ve collected old, used devices and we’re donating it to the clinic,” rising UVA third-year Rachana Subbanna said. “These devices are essentially going to connect patients in the clinic with their health care providers.”

They’re bridging the gap by collecting and donating tech. Monday morning was their first device drop-off, and they’ve already given 27 devices including tablets, phones, and laptops. 

“I just contacted all my friends and family and just kept spreading the word to get more money, and then slowly we also got donations coming in and even from our houses,” Sneha Thandra, the Virginia state lead for Telehealth for Seniors and a rising third year at Emory University, said. “We found all the devices we could possibly contribute.”

In March, a group of Yale students wanted to do their part to contribute. They came up with the service: Telehealth for Seniors. They slowly brought in other states, which is how Thandra and the group of UVA volunteers got involved.

The initiative is helping low-income and elderly people not only stay connected to doctors, but also to their friends and family.

“An unseen effect of the pandemic is the mental health effects it has on a lot of people,” UVA rising third-year Tanvi Nallanagula said. “Giving devices to seniors who don’t really have any other means of communicating otherwise, it gives them control back in their lives.”

By providing devices, the students will give people the power to stay in touch with family and friends, coordinate prescription drop-offs, groceries, and have the comfort of face-to-face telemedicine.