Dr. Michael Babb, a doctor at Williamson Medical Center, had just finished a shift on the COVID-19 unit when he witnessed several patients who had no means to communicate with their loved ones during a lock-down at the hospital earlier this year.
The lockdown meant no family was allowed in to see loved ones.
“Many patients (especially the elderly) do not have smartphones, and if they do, they have limited plans precluding them from seeing and hearing loved ones,” Babb said.
Oftentimes, Babb would be the go-between on the telephone with the family of patients. Sadly, Babb said, some of the COVID-19 patients would go on to die without having communicated with their family.
“The family felt so helpless and sad because they could not be with their loved ones,” Babb said. “I realized how helpless I felt at that moment and I really wanted to help these families.”
Babb’s goal was to bring families together during the lockdown so family members could see each other. He knew the hospital had Wi-Fi but did not have electronic devices for patient use. Babb also knew the hospital did not have the budget to purchase electronic devises, so he immediately thought of the Rotary Club and its motto of “service above self.”
Babb, a longtime Rotarian and incoming district governor for Rotary District 6760, turned to area clubs to see if they could help.
“I knew the hospital didn’t have iPad’s budgeted, so I turned to the people who I know as helpers in our society — the Rotary clubs in the area,” Babb said.
Babb worked with the Rotary club of Brentwood Noon, Brentwood Breakfast, Franklin Noon, Franklin Breakfast and the Downtown Franklin Club. All five clubs pitched in to help buy iPads.
“I was humbled at the generosity of the five Rotary Clubs and their immediate willingness to donate the money for the purchase of eight iPads.”
Babb said that getting the clubs to do this was the easy part. Finding the iPads was the hard part.
“With manufacturing down right now, I had to search several places to find these.”
Mark Tumblin, president of the Franklin Noon Rotary Club, said the use of iPads for COVID-19 patients in need was a no brainer for the club.
“We support Dr. Babb, who is fine doctor as well as Rotarian,” Tumblin said. “This was an easy decision for our clubs to step up and help patients at WMC.”
The cost of the eight iPads was approximately $4,800. They were donated through the Williamson Medical Center Foundation with the help of Leigh Williams.
“It is going to warm my heart to see these COVID-19 patients connect with family,” Babb said.