Last month, John Lynch of New Jersey said a final goodbye to his father over FaceTime.
Hugh Lynch, who had dementia, died of natural causes at a memory care center in Atlanta on April 13. Because of Covid-19 guidelines restricting visitation to hospitals and care centers, John couldn't see his father in person before he died.
It was Lynch's experience with his father during the pandemic and conversations with medical worker friends that inspired him to take action.
Through the Lunch with Lynch Foundation, which Lynch founded in 2007, he launched Operation Connection: The iPad Project and asked members of his community to donate iPads with the goal of distributing them to local medical centers.
"Within the first hour of reach-outs, we had 20 donated iPads," Lynch told CNN. "This initiative was driven by the community, without a doubt."
The foundation, which usually focuses on providing educational experiences to local children, has since collected and distributed 60 iPads to hospitals in New Jersey, New York and South Carolina as well as nursing homes in Cape May County, New Jersey, according to Lynch.
About 18 iPads along with iPad covers and chargers were donated to Cape Regional Medical Center in New Jersey, according to Ray Wisniewski, Cape Regional Health System spokesman.
"They help in so many ways and take a lot of the stress off of patients and family members," Wisniewski told CNN, adding that an average of 40 patients a day use the iPads to connect with their loved ones.
The iPads are disinfected before being given to patients, said Wisniewski.
Michelle Driscoll, 51, was able to use one of the iPads donated to Cape Regional Medical Center to say goodbye to her mother, Bertha Brennan, when she died from Covid-19 on April 8.
"It was the hardest thing to go through, but being able to see her and what was going on with her gave me some peace," Driscoll told CNN.
Lynch now plans on branching out and continuing to collect and distribute iPads regionally in honor of his father.
"I just want to make him proud," Lynch said of his father, who he says inspired his philanthropic spirit. "Knowing that we can help families stay in touch during this time is a wonderful feeling."