Fulfilling a Need

January 2021 View more

Nick Scanlan, Byron Saum, and Frank Johnson

By Steve Lord

What started as an idea from the Rotary Club of Naperville moved faster than today’s technology. Fittingly, it was an idea to use state-of-the-art technology to help some of those affected most by the coronavirus pandemic—nursing home residents and patients in hospitals.

Pat Merryweather-Arges, a member of the Naperville Rotary Club, along with several other members, came up with the idea of bringing iPads to the nursing homes and hospitals, where quarantine and illness has bred isolation and loneliness.

At last count, the program counted donations from Rotary Districts 6450 and 6440 in Chicago and Northern Illinois, District 2750 in Tokyo, District 1913 in Croatia, Naperville Rotary Charities, 39 Rotary Clubs—including those in Naperville and Aurora—and the Rotary Foundation.

It resulted in almost $85,000 raised to distribute 244 iPads to 44 nursing homes, 21 acute-care and safety-net hospitals, two pediatric hospitals, one Veterans Affairs hospital, two hospice centers, one behavioral health hospital, and one long-term care hospital.

“We knew the need was there,” said Merryweather-Arges, who understood that from her work as director of Project Patient Care, a Chicago-based nonprofit that works to prevent medical errors and improve health care quality.

This past fall four members of two Rotary Clubs in Aurora delivered four four iPads to AMITA Health Mercy Medical Center Aurora. Those making the delivery were Joe Kosner, president of Rotary Club of Aurora Sunrise; Frank Johnson, a Sunrise Club member; Nick Scanlan, president-elect of Rotary Club of Aurora; and Byron Saum, Rotary Club of Aurora member.

Aubrey Adams, recreational therapy director at Meadowbrook Manor in Naperville, said the iPads “have revolutionized the way our residents can communicate with loved ones.” But they also have a key role in telehealth treatment for people.

Merryweather-Arges called them “a lifeline for the nursing home residents.”

This story originally appeared in the Aurora Beacon and is reprinted with permission.

Photo courtesy Rotary Club of Aurora