WILLIAMSTOWN, NJ – April 08, 2020: COPS Monitoring, the largest provider of wholesale professional alarm services in North America, announced today the donation of laptops to the Veterans Memorial Home, in Vineland, NJ, giving its residents the ability to connect with loved ones during the necessary quarantines imposed by COVID-19.
In just a few short months, and with no clear end in sight, the COVID-19 pandemic has already tallied nearly 1.5 million confirmed cases, contributed to more than 85,000 fatalities worldwide, and has either infected or affected millions more in 184 countries across the globe. Experts say that adults 60 and older, especially those with preexisting medical conditions, are more likely to have a more severe and even deadly coronavirus infection than other age groups.
With such high stakes, weeks ago and with great haste, thousands of retirement, nursing, and veterans memorial homes across the country closed their doors to outsiders to protect vulnerable residents. The same holds true for the Veterans Memorial Home, New Jersey's oldest continually operating veteran’s institution. Opened in 1899, Vineland has been providing services to New Jersey Veterans from every war or armed conflict since the Civil War. Still, despite its long history, steadfast commitment, and extensive experience, the COVID-19 represents a new challenge as the isolation caused an abrupt separation from loved ones.
Several studies have shown a direct correlation between meaningful family involvement and enhanced resident quality of life. "Both my parents live in the Veterans Memorial Home in Vineland, and they closed the doors to visitors on March 13," said Colleen Croge, Executive Assistant at COPS Monitoring. "I'm glad they did because they don't have a single case of the coronavirus in the whole facility. I feel pretty good about that, but I visit my parents regularly, and I haven't been able to see them for more than three weeks. I have no idea when I'll be able to visit them and my dad has been battling some serious health issues. I've seen some visitors talking through the glass to their family, but my parents live on the third floor and they're confined to their room or floor for the most part to minimize the risk of contracting the virus." Faced with this predicament, Colleen turned to COPS with an imaginative proposal.
"Colleen knows that we have an inventory of laptops to support our employees working from home during this time, and to prepare for remote dispatching to the millions of alarm users that we monitor nationwide, in the event it becomes necessary," said Jim McMullen, President of COPS Monitoring. "When Colleen asked if she could borrow a computer so she could video chat with her parents, we didn't hesitate. Our entire organization is built on the foundation of people helping people, and I was happy to help Colleen connect with her parents."
"When I delivered the laptop, I was greeted by the staff outside. They were completely covered in protective gear," Colleen recounted. "They took the laptop inside to be disinfected, and we scheduled a time later that day to video chat with my mom and dad." A few hours later, Colleen was able to see and talk with her parents. Holding back the tears, she described her 40-minute call with her parents including their reaction to their very first video call, and how much it affected them both to see and talk to each other face-to-face again. Later, the Vineland Veterans Memorial Home called Colleen to share just how much their demeanor and overall outlook had improved after their video chat.
"Many of us take for granted the ability to be connected with the ones we care about most, and we tend to underestimate what happens when that connection is suddenly interrupted," continued McMullen. "Colleen's experience with her parents prompted us to donate additional laptops, so others can have similar experiences," he concluded.
The laptops donated by COPS to the Veterans Memorial Home are shared amongst its residents so they too can reconnect with family and loved ones from across the globe in a time when they need it most.
How you can help:
Even with new and proposed funding to the VA, budgets may not allow for further and unanticipated items such as laptops. We encourage you to contact your local VA and other retirement and nursing homes to discuss how you can donate new and used laptops in working condition so its residents can connect with their families during this difficult time.