VA Chaplains Virtually Connect Veterans in ICU with Their Families

Older man in ICU speaking with loved one by video on an iPad

Recently, a Veteran in an intensive care unit in Gainesville, Florida, used an iPad to see his son, who was serving abroad, and tell him he loved him. The Veteran passed away the next day.

“The video call is what linked these two in a meaningful interaction that could not have happened otherwise,” said Justin Maynard, staff chaplain at the Malcom Randall VAMC and a U.S. Coast Guard Veteran. “That’s the sort of sacred space created with the iPads and VA Video Connect.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Veterans in ICUs cannot see their family members face-to-face. Maynard and five other chaplains in the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System are bridging that gap with iPads, or “HealthPads,” they’ve received through the VA Mobile Health Provider Program. Lisa Huang, local mobile health specialist and known at her facility as the “iPads lady,” worked to secure the HealthPads for the chaplains.

“It has been an honor to witness people finding meaningful connections when this pandemic is isolating people,” Maynard said. “The HealthPads have been a vital tool to establish a safe interaction between a Veteran and their family.”

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