Rico Pasamba

Coronavirus Updates | 16 days ago

Donated iPads Give Patients Virtual Connection to World Outside Hospital Walls

For patients who are unable to have loved ones visit them in-person due to tightened safety precautions, technology has been a great source of peace and comfort. Thanks to donations from the Atrium Health Foundation, patients are able to use iPads to connect themselves to the outside world.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, May 13, Rico was discharged from Atrium Health University City. The video below shows many of our teammates giving Rico a round of applause while he rang the bell to celebrate his recovery. Although his family couldn't be there in-person, our teammates used one of our donated iPads to stream this milestone live with his loved ones. 


Almost a quarter of our patients have no access to technology of their own and are socially isolated when they come to receive care with us, especially now that visitors have restricted access due precautions against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Now, thanks to funding from the Atrium Health Foundation and a donation from AT&T, Atrium Health has 100 brand new iPads for patients to use across our system, giving them a virtual connection with family, friends, their faith and the world outside.

“In the short time that this technology has been available, there have been many compelling and meaningful interactions that have been made possible -- some sad, others joyful,” says Lois Ingland, vice president of community engagement and corporate responsibility, who is coordinating the community donation effort during the COVID-19 response.

For one COVID-19 patient and his family, these iPads were a game-changer

Connecting to loved ones outside hospital walls

Rico Pasamba had been intubated and nonresponsive for more than three weeks in the Intensive Care Unit at Atrium Health University City, the longest time of all COVID-19 patients there.

So, Lee Jock, chaplain and manager of spiritual care and education at the hospital, helped Rico’s family in North Carolina, New Jersey, New York and California, send audio messages of encouragement and songs sung by his children through the iPad. After a few days, Rico’s family set up several video calls to see him, even though he was still unable to speak.   

Last week, Rico came off intubation. And while he was being moved from the ICU to PCU, nurses used the iPad to FaceTime the family, so they could cheer him on while the nurses gave him a mini-parade.

Rico is now having daily video calls with his family. The iPad plays such a big role in his recovery because they can see each other and encourage Rico to keep fighting.

During their dad’s darkest days, "Your mind wonders ‘what does he look like?’ And he’s all alone. Your mind goes to dark places,” says his oldest daughter, Cherry Pasamba, who lives in California. “When we were finally able to see him and how well his nurses care for him, how beautiful his room is, and how the nurses have all our pictures up for him to see, it gave us so much comfort to know that he’s in great hands. We cannot reiterate enough how wonderful and kind the nurses, Lee, and Atrium Health’s chaplains have been. They are true heroes to us."

An idea that blossomed into a reality

Atrium Health’s pastoral care teammates, who provide spiritual care and compassion to patients and our healthcare staff, spearheaded this initiative.

To carry out their work while also practicing social distancing and conserving personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 response, chaplains have turned to ministering by video through iPads, smartphones and laptop computers. But they didn’t have enough devices to make this possible at every facility.

Ingland began to seek community donors to support the donation of iPads. AT&T answered the call and donated five iPads to Atrium Health.

Thanks to generous donations from the community to the Atrium Health Foundation, Informatics and Analytics Services (IAS) purchased another 110 iPads.

“I am grateful to IAS for working so quickly to get the product in hand, and for the chaplains and nurses who are working frontline to support our patients,” says Ingland. “But I am especially grateful to our Atrium Health Foundation and the generous donors that made this gift possible.”