When Henry Gabriel saw organizations in Italy donating iPads to local hospitals and nursing homes, he decided he wanted to do something similar in Bloomington.
“I thought this was the perfect opportunity to be able to help out local community members,” said Gabriel, associate director of finance for University Information Technology Services.
Gabriel started talking to other UITS employees and working with people throughout the department to organize the donation. In total, 14 iPads were donated to hospitals and nursing homes throughout Monroe County.
UITS donated iPads of a couple different sizes that the department was not using and refurbished and tested them to ensure they were in working condition and ready for video-calling.
Jackie Routt, Autumn Hills Alzheimer's Special Care Center administrator, said she was notified a month before the nursing home received the iPad.
“When we were first informed about receiving an iPad, our patients didn’t necessarily understand what they would actually be receiving,” Routt said. “Since we’ve received them, there’s been a notable difference with our patients.”
Autumn Hills received the larger iPad model, and Routt said the size is beneficial to the patients because it makes it easier for them to see things on the screen.
Alzheimer's can cause patients to be confused and troubled by problem solving, time and place, and comprehending images and relationships. Routt said allowing residents to FaceTime with their family members and friends has calmed confusion and anxieties.
Routt didn’t know whether UITS was letting Autumn Hills borrow the iPad or keep it permanently. Gabriel clarified that it is for them to keep.
“The iPad at Autumn Hills is a donation, and we don’t want them to worry about having to return it to us,” Gabriel said. “We decided we wanted them to keep it because then we don’t eventually have to worry about tracking them down or worrying about if it has been dropped and shattered.”
The iPad is one of the few sources for contact between residents and family members right now. Visitors were only allowed to visit with Autumn Hills residents through the window for many weeks. Routt said visits are slowly returning to normal because Monroe County is now in stage four Indiana's reopening plan. Visitors are now allowed to sit outside with residents as long as social distancing is enforced.
“The iPads will continue to keep loved ones connected as long as the pandemic continues,” Routt said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story falsely stated that UITS collected the iPads from students and faculty. The IDS regrets this error.