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Klobuchar’s ACCESS Act keeps seniors connected during pandemic

Klobuchar’s ACCESS Act keeps seniors connected during pandemic Photo: KSTP-TV.

Ashley Zilka
Updated: July 03, 2020 10:18 PM
Created: July 03, 2020 12:08 PM

Ahead of the holiday weekend, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, talked about her bipartisan bill, called the ACCESS Act, at the Good Samaritan Specialty Care Community in Robbinsdale.  

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"You cannot have a happy life if you have loved ones that you cannot see or cannot ever talk to and you are alone," Klobuchar said.

The senator says the plan would increase telehealth access for nursing homes and help to facilitate virtual visits between seniors and their families.

Klobuchar said it's critical that seniors don't feel isolated during the pandemic.

"It puts money into nursing facilities," Klobuchar said. "A grant program to expand telehealth, to make it easier for people to buy this type of equipment, on a related matter, and it is related, internet service."

Instead of a cellphone, seniors would be able to use bigger screens using equipment like iPads and televisions.

Good Samaritan Specialty Care Community closed its doors to visitors on March 10. Administrator Julie Organ says, in that time, they have purchased 1,000 iPads throughout their society. Residents at the Robbinsdale facility have had 450 telehealth visits and 200 virtual visits with loved ones.

Advocates say not every nursing home is able to do that without financial help.

"The ACCESS Act would help expand those efforts by providing telehealth and family virtual visits that are so important, and hopefully give the resources to the areas that maybe don't have the resources that we have been lucky enough to have," Organ said.

AARP is one of the agencies endorsing the ACCESS Act.

"This will provide a tremendous piece of mind for families who really can be a lifesaving set of eyes on residents and hear whether their loved ones have special needs or concerns during this difficult time that may not be met," said AARP Minnesota State Director Will Phillips.


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