The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
This request comes from my wife's high school classmate Dr. Rachel Sussman, who is affiliated with the Stanford Health Care. She has explained the idea far better than I could. So I am (with permission) reprinting her Facebook post on the subject:
My public community hospital (VMC-O'Connor in San Jose, CA) needs help. I am on day three of working in our inpatient COVID ward. Yes, we need PPE. However, we also have an urgent tech need that could indirectly help a great deal with our PPE needs. We need about 50 iPads or similar devices to be placed in every COVID patient room and every ER room. This would allow doctors and nurses to communicate with and evaluate patients without going into the room and using a set of PPE every time. Perhaps more importantly, one of the ghastly things I've already seen with this disease is that patients who are dying are dying alone. Family cannot visit. We have tried to use smart phones as a stopgap measure, but in our hospital most of our patients are too sick, too old, not English-speaking, or too poor (they don't have a smart phone) for this to be practical. If any friends have contacts at a big tech company that could provide this type of device as a emergency charitable donation, it would make a big difference in the lives of doctors, nurses, RTs, and patients in the weeks and months to come. Photo of my n95 marks post-COVID shift.
Edited to add: although I appreciate the offers of individual device donations, hospital admin and IT are already stretched very thin coping with this pandemic. Individual donations of different models etc just won't be practical to coordinate and equip. Thank you!
If you are in a position to help, please contact me by e-mail (contact info here), and I will in turn get you in contact with relevant people on-site. For reasons that Dr. Sussman indicates in her post, I am NOT in a position to facilitate donations of individual devices. What is needed are bulk donations that can quickly be adapted to operate as an integrated system, if that is the right terminology.
While I am no expert, it also seems to me this is an idea that could potentially be adapted by other hospitals, as well. At the very least, it deserves consideration so long as there is a shortage of PPE.