Northern Michigan University today donated 24 refurbished notebook computers to Norlite Nursing Center in Marquette, which has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the Upper Peninsula. All Norlite residents who have been isolated in their rooms since mid-March now have the technology to communicate with friends and family and engage in online group activities.
“Northern contributed a number of X1 Carbon ThinkPads that had been turned in by students who graduated,” said Chris Lewis, NMU director of Technology Support Services. “We realize Norlite has been hit hard by COVID-19 and the need to self-isolate for health reasons can be very difficult for some residents. Our notebook computer program put us in a position to help them enjoy critical social engagement with others online, when face-to-face interaction isn't possible.”
Norlite Activities Director Amy Fraley said prior to the pandemic, residents could participate in 19-21 group activities per day. They have since been confined to their rooms, unable to interact socially with fellow residents. Those without available technology were excluded from conversing with others via Skype or Zoom, or from participating in online activities. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow's office was made aware of the access issue and reached out to see if there was any way NMU could assist.
“The devices donated today will enhance the quality of life for our residents and give them the ability to communicate with the ones they love and participate in the group activities they enjoy,” Fraley said. “I cannot thank those who have helped us reach this goal enough. Your generosity will never be forgotten. Often, residents in long-term care facilities go unnoticed, but today their needs have been heard and they have been blessed.”
Norlite Administrator Wayne Johnson added, “This donation is truly remarkable. This will allow every resident's room in the facility to have access to telecommunication technology and will enhance our residents' quality of life. We cannot thank Sen. Stabenow's office and NMU enough for their help and generous donation.”
The ThinkPads were delivered to the Norlite Nursing Center parking lot earlier this afternoon by NMU student Allie Johnson and Asset Management Assistant Katie Torreano.