RAPID CITY, S.D. – Monument Health says it has provided more than 300 iPads across its health system to patients.

The project began as a means to help COVID-19 patients connect with loved ones when they couldn’t have visitors, Monument Health said in a news release on Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Funding to Monument Health Foundation for the iPads and wall mounts came from the the John T. Vucurevich Foundation, which gave $25,000, and the South Dakota Community Foundation, which donated $20,000.

“When we consider the Foundation’s purpose and how our funds are distributed, efforts that will help caregivers at the bedside and that will help improve the experience for patients are what we focus on,” Angie Kliewer, Monument Health Foundation director, said in a statement. “So we were happy to help with this project.”

Monument said the partnership developed for this initiative after Lowe’s in Rapid City donated five of the devices to Monument Health to support patients in the community.

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The importance of helping families communicate, especially in the most dire of circumstances, was reinforced Aug. 7 when the parents of a COVID-19 patient asked to visit Rapid City Hospital to thank caregivers and providers who cared for their son and who facilitated the use of an iPad before he passed away.

“Seeing your family member over video is more personal than a phone call,” said Janel Salazar, nurse clinician in the Intensive Care Unit. “It’s been vital in helping the family provide support and participate in the care of their loved one and also in helping the patient not feel so isolated.”