Mississippi family uses technology to spend time with COVID-19 patient hospitalized in isolation

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DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. — When Tommy Eldred contracted the coronavirus, he had to be hospitalized in isolation, and he couldn’t even have his family visit him.

Current safety regulations wouldn’t allow him to see them, and it broke his son Jeff’s heart.

“You can’t explain how difficult it is to not be there with your loved one like you would do—it’s horrible,” Jeff Eldred said.

Eldred’s family had to find another way to connect, so they sent an iPad to his room at Baptist Memorial Hospital in DeSoto County. With some tech support from the nurses, the 76-year-old had his loving family right on the screen next to him.

They used a video calling app called “Google Duo,” and it gave Tommy the ability to see and talk with his loved ones whenever he wanted. In fact, they listened to his favorite music together and had all kinds of family fun like playing a game of trivia or enjoying movie night. Jeff Eldred accomplished that by holding his camera up to the TV in his house.

“It was fun, and it gave a lot of levity to a bad situation,” Jeff said.

They kept the call going 24 hours a day with someone always in front of the camera.

“Every time he woke up, he looked at the iPad to see if anybody was there, and every time we were able to tell him we’re here,” Jeff said.

Sadly, Tommy Eldred died about a week after going to the hospital, but his family is grateful for the time they had with him, and now they want to help others in the same situation.

Working with Baptist, they set up a fund in Tommy’s name to buy iPads for patients hospitalized in isolation.

If you’d like to donate, click the link. It will direct you to the Baptist COVID-19 assistance fund. Click on that, and write “Tommy Eldred” in the dedication box to specify the iPad fund.

“I would not want anyone to go through what a patient with this virus has to go through by themselves,” Jeff Eldred said.

The fund is also for nurses working in isolation.

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