As its latest charitable measure, TELUS has announced that it will give out over 10,000 free smartphone devices, accompanied with $0 rate plus, to hundreds of organizations across Canada.
These smartphones are intended for COVID-19 patients, which will allow them to remain connected with their loved ones during their stay in hospital.
Other groups that will benefit from these smartphones include seniors, low-income, homeless, and at-risk individuals, providing them with a lifeline to their families, healthcare practitioners, and social support services during the pandemic.
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Already, 6,000 smartphones paired with $0 rate plans, including 3GB of data and unlimited nationwide talk and text per month, have been distributed.
“The TELUS team is deeply committed to keeping our country’s most vulnerable citizens safe and connected during this health emergency,” said Darren Entwistle, president and CEO of TELUS, in a statement.
Many hospitalized with COVID-19 do not have personal mobile devices, and they are unable to reach out to their family as a result.
For example, at Toronto’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, staff are in the process of rolling out the smartphones donated by TELUS to hospital wards. When the smartphones are operational, patients will not only be able to call their families, but staff can call them as well to avoid opportunities for exposure with the coronavirus, by not entering their room for minor check-ins.
In addition, once a patient is intubated, they are unable to answer a call, but they can see and hear loved ones on the device.
“This will provide solace for the family especially, and staff who are watching people die alone, unable to comfort them,” said Dr. Allan Detsky CM, former physician in chief at Mount Sinai Hospital.
In Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, where COVID-19 could have a disastrous impact on the low-income and homeless population, the smartphones help keep peer support for workers connected to community organizations.
Additionally, many seniors do not have access to a phone, but the mobile devices provide them with phone access to emergency and health services, delivery of food and medication, and connections to family and friends.
“Working in concert with our partners, we have expanded our Mobility for Good program to ensure those most impacted by COVID-19, including isolated hospital patients and long-term care residents, have access to the devices and service needed to stay in touch with healthcare professionals and importantly, with their loved ones during what is often a lonely and overwhelming time in their lives,” continued Entwistle.
“No one should feel alone or disconnected, and it is a privilege for our team to be able to create a vital human connection for those members of our community who are most in need of our care and assistance.”
Since the start of the epidemic in Canada, TELUS’ community boards have also provided financial contributions to various charities and organizations across the country. Moreover, the company’s foundation is spending $10 million to purchase new medical equipment for hospitals, including ventilators, as well as increase support to food banks, outreach to isolated seniors, virtual education programs, and mental health initiatives.
Entwistle has also donated three months of his 2020 CEO salary to organizations contributing to COVID-19 relief. His salary in 2018 was about $1.4 million.
His namesake foundation, the Entwistle Family Foundation, established in 2018 with his wife, will match this donation.