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Patient Advocate Wins Grant for Riverside Doctors’ Hospital Williamsburg to Provide Patients with Communication Tablets

Brittany Burrell

Williamsburg, Virginia — Brittany Burrell never went to medical school. She doesn’t have any formal clinical training. 

But she knows, without a doubt, that when folks are sick “people need people. People need love,” she said. “That love, that connection, can be as important to someone’s healing as medicine.”

As the Patient Advocate / Patient Experience Coordinator for Riverside Doctors’ Hospital Williamsburg, Burrell has seen the power of that love and support firsthand. 

That’s why when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country hard last year, forcing hospitals and medical practices across the country to limit patient visitors as part of safety protocols to limit the spread of the virus, she knew the team at the hospital would need to find creative ways to keep loved ones connected. 

Thanks to COVID Tech Connect, Burrell and the team members can now more easily do just that. 

Earlier this year, after Burrell applied for a grant from the organization, COVID Tech Connect donated 15 Samsung tablets to Riverside Doctors’ Hospital to help ensure COVID-19 patients could remain connected to their loved ones. 

Supported by The Giving Back Fund, COVID Tech Connect donates smart devices to hospitals, care facilities, and hospice centers across the country. 

“The fact that we received this many tablets is significant for a 40-bed hospital,” Burrell said. “We are able to use these across the hospital and I can tell you that it makes a difference.”

Last year, one patient in particular could only connect with his family through a smart screen, Burrell said. 

He had moved to the greater Williamsburg region several years ago, having left most of his family in South America, and only had one family member in the immediate area. He was COVID-19 positive and couldn’t have any visitors in to see him. 

“We all still knew he needed to connect with his family and we were literally pulling on anybody’s iPad in the facility we could find and adding apps on devices just so we could connect him with his family,” Burrell said, expressing great gratitude for having had two iPads donated by the Riverside Foundation in the hospital already. “Every day I worked with the nurses and worked with our hospice and palliative care team to set up times with the family to connect with him.”

It was, by far, one of the most difficult situations that family – and Burrell – had experienced. 

“But in the end, the family remained very, very grateful to have been able to see him, to talk to him, during this very difficult time,” Burrell said. 

Now, with the new tablets, there won’t need to be that searching for tablets or hunting to find devices to make sure people can connect with their loved ones. 

And for that, Burrell said the team is very grateful. 

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over, yet. 

“But if there is another husband who has to drop off his wife to be here alone, or if children have to drop off their dad or other loved one,” Burrell said, “we know we can keep them virtually together."

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