College student donates tablet computers to nursing homes, hospices

James Rizzardi is using his skills as a software programmer to design a system to reprogram multiple tablet computers at once.

"One by one by hand, honestly, would've taken probably a little over two days," he said.

The Stony Brook University senior came up with the idea Tabs4covid to buy, program, and then donate devices to health care facilities.

"Maybe occasionally if you can make a phone call and you hear their voice and they can hear yours, you tell them how much you love them," he said. "I can't put words to being able to do something like that for someone."

Rizzardi's goal is to virtually connect sick patients with loved ones who are separated due to distancing restrictions put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I couldn't imagine not to be there to say my goodbye," he said.

Rizzardi said he feels fortunate he was able to say goodbye to his grandmother Yolanda in person back in November before she died.

And as a way to pay it forward to the nurses who took such good care of her, he dropped off the first 30 tablets at Good Shepherd Hospice in Port Jefferson, where she spent her final days.

"Our mission is to bring together patients and their families when they're seriously ill," said Kim Kranz, the president of Catholic Home Care and Good Shepherd Hospice. "Because of James, because of this technology, we're able to continue that mission."

Thanks to Rizzardi, each tablet has a handful of apps already installed. And he is bringing 30 more tablets to a nursing home in Centereach on Wednesday. As the donations keep coming in, he plans to continue ordering more.

"I'm really happy to do this," he said.


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