After experiencing the heartbreaking loss of their father, a Buckhannon family provided the gift of communication to COVID-19 patients at Mon Health Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Weston and Mon Health Medical Center in Morgantown.
Their donation of iPads and Android tablets will provide other families the opportunity to stay connected while staying apart from their loved ones in hospitals.
Tex E. Walton was admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 Oct. 7, 2020, and succumbed to the virus Oct. 20. His daughters, Sheila Perry and Pam Johnston of Buckhannon, could only communicate with him through cell phone and other devices.
“At times, the hospital staff members used their personal devices so that we could communicate with our dad. Due to the lack of devices in the facility, we were only given a few opportunities to communicate with him, to say our goodbyes, and to be with him virtually as he passed away,” the sisters said in a release.
The virtual communication the girls shared with their father gave him the strength to keep fighting while providing them with memories they cherish. Knowing other families were struggling with similar experiences, Pam, Sheila, and Sheila’s daughter, NinaMae Coberly, organized a fundraiser to purchase iPads and Android tablets for health care facilities throughout the region.
“We want to help families all over West Virginia, and those individuals in all stages of COVID-19. We realize that just being able to see and hear your loved one’s voice gives hope and the will to fight,” they wrote. “A thank you to all the frontline staff. We appreciate all that you sacrifice to help COVID-19 patients. You are in our prayers.”
Pam, Sheila and NinaMae have already donated iPad and Android tablets to Mon Health Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital and Mon Health Medical Center and have plans to donate more if additional funds become available. They have also donated several devices to J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, United Hospital Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Davis Medical Center.
“I want others to have more time. I want the patient to have the will to fight and not become depressed and lonely,” Sheila said. “I take great pride in sharing his giving heart by helping other COVID-19 families.
“I cannot think of a better way to honor Dad, and I thank God for all the gracious people who have given donations to the fundraiser to make all this happen. I love my Dad and I miss him terribly, but I know that he would give me a thumbs-up for a good job on this.”
While delivering the iPads to Mon Health Medical Center, Sheila and NinaMae shared their story and other memories of their father with the Mon Health team.
“The gift of communication that Pam, Sheila, and NinaMae has given is remarkable,” said Mark Gilliam, chief administrative officer at Mon Health Medical Center. “They have taken the tremendous loss of their father and turned it into an incredible movement to allow other families to feel connected during a time of heartache and pain. Their gift will continue to impact families through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”
To donate to the fundraiser, go to gofund me.com and search Tex Walton or contact Sheila Perry and Pam Johnson at 304-677-8418.