A group of second-year medical students from the Keck School of Medicine of USC are collecting smartphones, tablets and laptops and donating them to Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center and other Los Angeles hospitals. The donated devices are for patients infected with COVID-19 and who are therefore isolated from family and friends.

Student Janine Cadet, who’s helping to lead the local effort, said isolation and loneliness were challenges patients in a hospital setting faced even before the coronavirus pandemic.

“Imagine: You can’t have visitors, you can’t have your family and friends there to support you,” said Cadet, who has researched the health effects of isolation and loneliness on patients. “We wanted to combat that by bringing in these devices so people can stay connected. We’re hoping that this will benefit outcomes and help people recover more quickly.”

The other Keck School students involved are Katherine Bick, Neal Nathan, Emmy Jin, and Kristina van de Goor. All are from the Class of 2022.

Cadet said the group’s goal is to donate anywhere from 300 to 500 devices to local hospitals, clinics and affiliated partners who are treating COVID-19 patients. People from the Keck School’s Master of Science in Global Medicine Program have donated about two dozen unused iPads from the department.

In addition to working with LAC+USC, they’re also working with Adventist Health White Memorial and Olive View-UCLA Medical Center.

Bick has said that in addition to the isolation patients feel while undergoing treatment for the virus, they often lack someone close to them to help decide on treatments and other issues.

“Involving family in medical decisions is important,” she said. “That has really been lost during the pandemic.”

A drive-thru donation box for this campaign was set out from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 7 at the Biggy parking structure’s parking attendant booth. 

Those who couldn’t make it but still wish to donate can fill out an online donation form, and campaign representatives will come pick up the device. Donors are encouraged to wipe all data from their devices before donating, following these recommended step-by-step instructions.

— Landon Hall