Woman on mission to give iPads to hospitals after mother dies of COVID-19

Hometown Heroes

ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. (WHTM) — A Pennsylvania woman is on a mission to help others avoid the pain her family felt, not able to communicate with their dying mother in the ICU.

It’s a pain too many are feeling these days, losing a loved one to COVID-19.

“My mom was really tough. She was not one that we expected this to ever happen to,” said Karen Pearson.

Julie Books was a healthy 68-year-old with a loving family before testing positive for COVID-19 at the end of October.

“We lost our mom which was horrible but we wish we were there with her and we know that she was alone and she was scared and there was nothing that we could do,” said Michael Books.

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Books, his dad and mom live in Michigan, while sister Karen Pearson is in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.

“Whether you’re in Pennsylvania or you’re in Michigan at that point, everyone feels a million miles away because nobody’s allowed in,” Pearson said.

Within days, Julie was on a ventilator in the ICU. The hospital had a limited amount of iPads.

“The nurse one time was able to hold the phone to my mom’s ear and I was able to talk to her for a little bit,” Books said. “They were able to get an iPad into the room but it was very similar to the phone. It was just a nurse holding it. It was very short.”

That’s why they started an iPads for Patients GoFundMe with almost $18,000 raised in just a few days.

“If I can get a device into your hands so at least you’re not alone when you’re there, a little less scared, I think that improves your chances of healing,” Books said.

Books is working with hospitals in Michigan and Pearson is working with hospitals in the Midstate Pennsylvania, including Penn State Health in Hershey, Holy Spirit and Lancaster General Hospital to start with.

“The goal is to have every single patient when they check-in have an iPad at their disposal that they can have from the moment that they check in until the moment they no longer need it anymore,” Pearson said.

Pearson says it’s not just a comfort, but a way to advocate for your loved ones.

“You’re going to have more communication between the doctors, nurses and the patients’ families,” Pearson said. “You’re going to be able to advocate better for your family member that is in there. You’ll be able to understand better what’s going on while they’re there because you can see them.”

With enough to buy 50 iPads so far, their goal is to have no family go through what they did.

The first batch of iPads will be delivered next week.

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