Any visit to the emergency room usually means an accompaniment of stress, anxiety, and fear. When you have to make that trip because of COVID-19, a terrible illness that has killed tens of thousands of Americans, those emotions are magnified considerably.
So it is understandable that many people who travel to a hospital do so having forgotten to take some essential day-to-day items with them. Most will remember to bring their cell phone. But all too many forget the charger.
"Most will remember to bring their cell phone. But all too many forget the charger."
With no visitors allowed because of restrictions designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the result is that – at a time when they are in a scared and vulnerable state – once their cell phone runs out of charge they are left feeling completely alone.
In response, a group of friends came up with a simple yet hugely effective campaign: CHARGE Power.
This initiative uses donations to fund the purchase of phone chargers and the delivery to hospitals to enable patients, their families, and healthcare providers to stay connected.
"The psychological boost of being able to speak to a family member during a stressful time is one incalculable benefit."
But there is a second; staff has to wear PPE every time they enter a patient’s room, so being able to pass on test results and health plans by phone means their protective wear lasts longer.
Who is the team behind CHARGE Power?
Vik Gulati, a dedicated frontline clinical emergency medicine physician in San Diego, CA, is the executive director of the board of volunteers behind the initiative.
Inspired by an idea formulated by one of his colleagues and co-founders, Bhavesh Mody, he saw the win-win potential of the plan.
“We saw first hand how scared patients were coming to the hospital alone,” said Gulati. “In addition, since two of us are emergency medicine physicians, we noted how we could keep ourselves and our fellow colleagues safe – and equally, keep our patients informed.”
“We saw first hand how scared patients were coming to the hospital alone,” said Gulati.
“We started off as eight friends doing this. During this time, our friendships have only grown and we have added other members along our journey. We have learned a lot of new skills along the way. Most importantly, we feel very touched when we hear back from a provider or a patient about how our little initiative was very impactful on their lives.”
One team member has seen what a dramatic difference the presence of a phone charger can make to a patient and those treating them.
Jonathan Hefler is an entrepreneur and executive in the legal industry. His father contracted COVID-19 and spent nearly two months in the ICU at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida.
Thanks to a nurse’s cell phone charger, he and his family were able to stay connected throughout the ordeal.
“A simple phone charger literally saved my father’s life,” said Hefler.
He added, “we said, ‘You keep fighting, you keep being strong and we know somehow you can hear us’. And thank goodness, a simple phone charger allowed us to say that to him over and over every single day.”
After his father was out of danger, Jonathan got in touch with the team to add his assistance to their efforts.
How are healthcare teams sourcing chargers?
Hard-pressed providers across the United States can get in touch with CHARGE Power through its website at www.chargepower.org and fill out a form to request assistance.
In return, they will receive a box of three-in-one cell phone chargers that can be used to power Apple or Android devices. The cord on each is 10 feet long to cover the distance from the wall to a gurney.
The cords are all colored red so that they can be identified as having been donated and to lessen the likelihood that staff or patients accidentally take them away with them.
How can you help?
Make a Donation to the Organization
Making a donation to finance the cost of the chargers is straightforward and can be done at www.chargepower.org . For just $10, you can provide a single life-changing charger. A donation of $200 will fund an entire department’s supply of chargers. $1,000 donations enable an entire hospital to receive them.
If you work at a hospital and believe your emergency department, ICU or a floor could benefit please fill out the request form at www.chargepower.org.
Spread the Word and The Effort
By sharing this story with friends and family, you can increase the reach of this initiative and help CHARGE reach its goals.
By sharing your chargers or directly donating them to people, hospitals, or others in need can make all the differnece.
What are CHARGE's goals?
The team has set a target of providing 50,000 free chargers by raising $500,000 in the space of three months. More than 6,000 have already been delivered to over 60 donations across the nation.
An extra benefit is that chargers can be returned, cleaned, and reused by future patients at the same unit.
How do people get in touch with CHARGE Power?
CHARGE is part of the Giving Back Fund, a non-profit corporation with federal tax-exempt status from the IRS.