British Columbia

Tech entrepreneur collects over 50 electronic devices to help COVID-19 patients see loved ones

Tech enterpreneur Michael Cole wanted to help isolated patients at Burnaby Hospital and seniors in an adjacent care facility visit friends and family virtually.

Michael Cole donated the devices to Burnaby Hospital so isolated patients could have virtual visits

For COVID-19 patients in ICU, and seniors who are isolated in care homes for their own protection, seeing loved ones over video technology is the safest, and usually only way, to connect. (Shutterstock / Have a nice day Photo)

A B.C. tech entrepreneur is making it possible for COVID-19 patients and isolated seniors in Burnaby to say hello — and in some cases perhaps good-bye — to their loved ones during the pandemic.

Michael Cole, who is also a trustee on the board of the Burnaby Hospital Foundation, saw a social media post from the foundation asking people to donate used electronic devices so patients in intensive care and seniors living in a care facility adjacent to the hospital, could see friends and family. 

Cole decided to reach out to his contacts in the technology industry to try to rally support for the cause.

In a span of 48 hours, he had collected over 50 devices, all with video technology capabilities. And for many who will use them, it will be the only way they can see their loved ones.

"It could be the last time, or for a long period of time — that's why i thought it was important," Cole said Friday on The Early Edition.

Cole said he also wanted to take the pressure off health-care staff, many of whom he said were trying their best to connect patients with whatever technology was available, despite being in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis.

"We are in unique circumstances right now so it just seemed like something they shouldn't have to worry about," said Cole.

Of course, Cole cannot visit the patients he has helped, but said it has been great to see footage of some people using the devices already this week.

 "It could be any of us," he said. "Hopefully this brings some a little bit closer to their family."

Anyone interested in donating a device to the Burnaby Hospital Foundation can find contact information here.

Devices do not need to be new but must have video capability.

With files from The Early Edition

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