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Atrium Health’s new iPads allows families to visit loved ones virtually

“For my brother, who was so close to my mother, to be able to say his goodbyes meant the world to us,” Kimberly Rouse said.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The coronavirus crisis has kept families from being at their loved one's side in the hospital, and in some cases, prevented them from being there to say their final goodbye. Now, new iPads at Atrium Health are helping families be in a patient’s room from thousands of miles away.

The iPad helped one Charlotte family come together for their mother as her health unexpectedly turned for the worst.

“Oh my gosh, my mom was the best mom, a little spunky woman, she was only 5’4,” said Charlotte local Kimberly Rouse.

At 75 years old, Rouse says her mother Lydia was a force.

“Always traveling, always shopping, extremely smart,” Rouse said. "She did a lot for her church, and the biggest prettiest smile. Gosh, her smile would light up a room.”

Rouse says on April 5, her mother went to Atrium Health to get a sodium infusion which she’s had in the past, but because of the coronavirus, she and her sister weren’t allowed to visit. 

Typically, she says they’d be by her side every minute.

“[We] could not see her, which we understood,” Rouse said. "But we never thought that would be the last time we’d see her.”

Eight days later, Rouse says her mother flatlined and the hospital told them to come quickly. Unfortunately, her brother couldn’t make it out of New York in time. 

To prevent keeping a bed from a coronavirus patient, Rouse says he was prepared to make peace with not seeing his mother before she died.

“He was going to allow us to take her off the ventilator, not go to ICU, and pass peacefully without seeing her,” Rouse said.

But, thanks to a donation of 100 iPads by Atrium Health Foundation and AT&T, Atrium Health chaplain Lee Jock says there was another option.

“COVID's been horrible, this whole situation’s been horrible, but the blessing in all of this is now we have these iPads,” Jock said. “If family can’t get there, we can get them connected right away.”

Rouse says she was able to hold the iPad to her ear as he whispered his final words.

“For my brother, who was so close to my mother, to be able to say his goodbyes meant the world to us,” Rouse said. “Especially since you’ve been hearing on the news nurses having to spend time with that loved one who perishes instead of family, to be able to have that moment, I can't even express the gratitude.”

Jock says the iPads are a great option for coronavirus patients to still see family as they social distance but are available to all patients who need family support. He says they will continue to use them even after the visitor restrictions are lifted.


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