BUCKHANNON — One local family has turned a COVID tragedy into the driving force behind “Communicate with Love”—a program they created to make numerous donations of iPads and Android tablets to area healthcare facilities.
Sheila Perry and her daughter, NinaMae Coberly visited Holbrook Healthcare Center Wednesday afternoon to present the staff with one iPad and one Android tablet to assist with their patients’ communication needs. With the continuous risks the pandemic has caused—especially to those in healthcare facilities—families are longing for ways to better communicate with their loved ones. Perry and Coberly recently experienced those same feelings while Perry’s father, Tex Walton, was being treated for COVID-19 back last fall.
Unfortunately, Walton lost his battle to the outbreak on October 20, 2020. While being treated at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, Walton’s family members were unable to be by his side due to facility restrictions. Thankfully, the nursing staff treating Perry’s father reportedly took it upon themselves to stay by his side and video call the family members so they could communicate with Walton before his passing. These memories, and Walton’s love for donating to his community, helped Perry and Coberly devise a plan to help other families going through similar struggles.
“We’ve raised over $6,000, and we have supplied 32 devices to different facilities around West Virginia. She [Coberly] named the project “Communicate with Love,” which is now being extended to nursing homes and rehabilitation centers—not only for the COVID patients, but for other patients who need to communicate with their family because of COVID restrictions,” Perry explained. “What better way to celebrate his [Walton’s] one year passing but to be able to help others communicate with their loved ones.”
Communicate with Love started by filling the need for iPads and tablets in the COVID rooms at Ruby Memorial. The hospital originally had just two iPads to use around the 14 COVID rooms, according to Perry. The family utilized donations and purchased 12 more devices to accommodate the other rooms. Donations have also been made to Charleston Area Medical Center, Elkins, Braxton County, Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital, Mon Health, St. Joseph’s, Ruby Memorial, and now Holbrook Healthcare Center.
“When you’re not there to rub their fingers or to fix their hair, it’s tough,” Perry stated. “And having amazing nurses like we did helps, but you know it’s still not the same and this is the only way that we were able to feel like we were there.”
Holbrook staff were in attendance to accept the donation and were able to take some time to talk to Perry and Coberly about the future uses of the devices and share their gratitude.
“It’s nice to feel supported, especially over the past year. We go through so much in here that the outside doesn’t see, so it’s nice to see that the community supports us,” expressed Administrator Trista Hamrick.
Anyone interested in donating to the cause can contact Sheila Perry on Facebook or donate to the family’s GoFundMe page “iPad & tablet donations in memory of Tex Walton” that can be found by searching Buckhannon, WV as the location.