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These Toronto doctors prescribed free cellphones and prepaid SIM cards

The group provided phones to patients who didn’t have one, so they could contact medical and other necessary services, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive.
By: Alison Larabie Chase
July 16, 2020
Photo: Toronto Star.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of emergency-room doctors in Toronto realized that asking people to self-isolate and follow physical distancing measures was near-impossible in today’s world without access to a cellphone. Phones are used for provision of test results, for contact tracing, to attend telemedicine appointments, and to stay in touch with loved ones when in-person visits are impossible. But many of the patients they were seeing didn’t have phones.

Thus, the PHONE-CONNECT working group was born. Patients without cellphones were “prescribed” a free phone and a prepaid SIM card, and were asked to give permission for a doctor to give them a call in several weeks with some questions. The physicians involved with the project say what they heard on those follow-up calls was “stunning.” They found that patients used their phones to access health supports and attend virtual medical appointments, but also to arrange for shelter beds or groceries, stay close with family and friends, and call distress hotlines or access counselling: a vast network of resources they might not have otherwise been able to reach. Nearly all of the recipients say their well-being has improved, all from the small addition of something most of us take for granted: a cellphone.

Source: Toronto Star

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