On August 19, 2020

Free smart phones provided for veterans

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION— Veterans living in areas of rural Vermont and New Hampshire will soon have another option to access medical and behavioral health appointments. The White River Junction VA Healthcare System has partnered with TeleHealth Access for Seniors who obtained donated smart devices for veterans. These devices will allow area veterans to access health care appointments, using telehealth services, as an alternative to face-to-face appointments at a VA facility.

Veterans can claim their free smart device on Wed. Aug. 19 at 12:30 p.m. at the White River Junction VA Medical Center’s memorial, under the flag. If raining, it will be held in the gazebo. (163 Veterans Drive in White River Junction.) Masks are required.

People in rural communities across the country often encounter difficulties in accessing health care services even prior to the current global pandemic. With the need to have more virtual appointments, those without a smart device or internet access have encountered obstacles to taking advantage of this important avenue for access to care.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, a group of Yale students founded TeleHealth Access for Seniors to help elderly and low-income patients access virtual medical care. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit provides vulnerable populations with smart devices to connect them to their physicians via telehealth, friends and family using digital connectivity, and wellness tools via apps. Through a network of 315 student volunteers, the group fundraises for new tablets and collects old camera-enabled devices from local communities. The organization also offers comprehensive print-out guides and free virtual tech support to educate seniors on how to set up devices, FaceTime, and various telehealth apps.  Since its founding in March, TeleHealth Access for Seniors has raised $70,000 and donated 1,750 devices to 88 clinics and VA facilities across the country.

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