Many critically-ill Covid-19 patients who are unable to see their families while in intensive care will be given access to video-conferencing equipment following a huge fundraising campaign.
Restrictions on visitors mean that patients battling coronavirus can go for weeks without seeing family or friends.
A number of people have died without having the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones because many hospitals in Ireland are operating a no-visit policy to curb the spread of Covid-19.
After a group of friends from Dublin saw the devastating impact of Covid-19, they saw an opportunity to help allay some of the difficulties patients face, particularly the elderly.
First batch of tablets almost ready to go to hospitals and nursing homes around the country. Thanks to @Powercity_Ltd https://t.co/d9nHO29phT please help us raise funds for more! We will be sending out 150 this weekend and demand is rising pic.twitter.com/my6VKyLVpi— Suzanne Stewart (@suzannestew_g) April 16, 2020
Suzanne Stewart, a medical devices specialist, experienced first-hand some of the trauma people face after her partner, an ICU doctor, was admitted to hospital with Covid-19.
The group have raised almost 22,000 euro to buy tablets for Covid-19 wards and critical care units.
Ms Stewart said: “It was when my boyfriend was in hospital that it was really highlighted how hard it is to communicate with someone when you can’t see them, especially when they’re really sick.
“Lots of people who go to hospital in an ambulance don’t think about their phone, tablet or charger.
“Also a lot of elderly people don’t have those kind of capabilities, they might have a regular phone and hospitals don’t have that kind of technology either.”
Update on our #comfort4covid Tablet Campaign. We've received our first delivery from @Powercity_Ltd & are getting the tablets hospital ready! @OrlaK91 @ClaireNeylon1 @newschambers @ciaracdublin @emmafarrellreal @kevpatts @suzannestew_g https://t.co/UU9yEpOZjL pic.twitter.com/0octE4GWoz— Emma Farrell (@emmafarrellreal) April 16, 2020
Ciara Close, an electronic engineer, said they are hoping to purchase some 300 tablets and have received over 100 donated tablets.
The group are also donating tablets to nursing homes across Ireland after visiting restrictions left thousands of elderly people unable to see loved ones.
Ms Stewart said the demand for tablets is “insurmountable”.
She added: “Around 1,500 to 2,000 tablets are needed to try to address the actual demand out there.
“The elderly people have been locked up for weeks and they are crying out for some sort of human connection.
“All of the nurses and consultants are delighted to hear that this is coming in because they too are dealing with this on the other side.
“Family members can’t come in and say goodbye so they have to say things over the phone.”
You might not be able to hug someone but if you could just see their face or have a conversation with someone you love, then that's amazingSuzanne Stewart
Ms Close added: “We’re also also putting Spotify and other music apps on the tablets because people want to listen to music as they will find that calming.
“We received our first batch of 60 tablets this week so we are now setting them up with lots of different apps, including WhatsApp.”
Ms Stewart added: “I think that they’ll be so excited to be able to actually hold a conversation with somebody that they know and be able to see their face.
“People are telling me that they’re bringing family members to windows and they can’t hear them, and then they’re getting upset because they can’t have a conversation.
“You might not be able to hug someone but if you could just see their face or have a conversation with someone you love, then that’s amazing.”