For Sinai-Grace 'war zone' frontliners, fund drive shows Metro Detroiters care

April 14, 2020, 6:14 AM

Nearly $11,000 is donated in three days in response to a plea from a doctor at Sinai-Grace, the northwest Detroit hospital that a nurse calls "a war zone."

Gifts from an online drive will buy iPad tablets to connect Covid patients with family members. Money from 100 donors exceeds an $8,000 goal posted last weekend by Michelle Groe of Ann Arbor.

Dr. Luda Khait-Vlisides wears her nickname on her face shield. (Photo: Facebook)

She acted after a request from a friend, Dr. Luda Khait-Vlisides of the emergency department physician at Sinai-Grace, largest of Detroit Medical Center's eight hospital and the subject of national news coverage.

"Her message came after a heart-wrenching shift in the emergency room, and expressed the shattering grief that comes with caring for Covid-19 patients who are dying alone in frantic, under-staffed hospital hallways," Groe posts on GoFundMe.

Luda's sorrow undid me, leaving me with a sense of urgency to do something. ...

Luda and her medical team at Sinai-Grace Hospital are asking us to help provide tablets to their patients in the ER/ICU COVID-units, allowing them to connect via Skype or Zoom during these final precious and holy moments of their lives.

Yesterday [Friday] we secured a partnership with Comcast, including their initial donation of 30 tablets and their efforts to secure additional supply for us at a significant discount [$85 each].  

Michelle Groe felt "a sense of urgency to do something."

In addition to helping patients and relatives, Groe says, the devices will "help doctors and nurses bridge the gap between their patients and those they call family, decreasing the trauma experienced by everyone."

On Monday, the campaign organizer thanks friends on Facebook: "You give me hope. ... The first batch of tablets is being shipped to us this afternoon!"

Dr. Erin Brennan, medical director at the hospital, "is assisting us in the distribution of the tablets," Groe said, adding: 

Comcast is also working throughout Detroit to provide low-income families with free high-speed connectivity over the next two months. ...

On the other side of this pandemic, the tablets will be repurposed to the Detroit Public Schools to help children and their families living in the city's most under-resourced communities. 

It's a bright spot amid dire reports from the hospital on West Outer Drive, where night shift nurses staged an April 2 sit-in over what they called under-staffing. The Detroit News quotes Jeff Eichenlaub of Troy, an emergency room nurse for the past six years:

"Walking into work last Thursday [April 2], it was a war zone, there were patients lying everywhere."

... "All three coolers are filled, the morgue and the viewing room next to the morgue are full and right now, we're taking bodies to the sleep lab to store them."

GoFundMe donations can be made here.

 Too many bodies: Detroit's Sinai-Grace runs out of space to store dead

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