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iPads for ICU: Dawson County COVID-19 survivor on mission to support other patients
IPADS RICKY WIGGINS 10-14-20
After a scary brush with COVID-19, Dawson County local Rick Wiggins is on a mission to provide Northside Hospital's ICU with a resource that kept him going through his own recovery process, iPads.

At the beginning of July, Dawson County man Rick Wiggins started feeling sick. His wife rushed him to the emergency room, where he learned he had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. 

The next thing Wiggins remembered was waking up, two weeks later on July 20 in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Northside Hospital Forsyth. 

Unsure of what happened and alone because of safety restrictions barring visitors from the ICU, Wiggins was understandably upset and confused. But with the help of hospital staff, he was offered the chance to FaceTime his wife on an ICU iPad, which he said was a “saving grace" during his recovery process.

Now fully recovered, Wiggins is on a mission to make sure that anyone in the ICU can have the recovery experience he had. 

The problem: the ICU at Northside Hospital Forsyth has 24 rooms, but only two iPads total for all the patients to share. 

So Wiggins is raising money to purchase 22 more iPads for the hospital ICU. 

“I made it a goal for myself that I would supply the remaining 22 iPads so they could have an iPad in each room in the ICU,” Wiggins said. “I know what it meant to me and my family to be able to do that, and I wanted to make sure that everyone in that ICU had the opportunity to be able to see face-to-face with their loved ones.” 

Wiggins said that FaceTiming his wife, while he was in the ICU, was a huge part of his recovery process and a great way to keep his mind off of being sick. 

“One day I had the iPad and I told the nurse that if anybody needs it you come and get it, but I actually FaceTimed with my wife for 6 hours straight,” Wiggins said. “My wife was COVID-19 positive too so she couldn’t go anywhere and my kids and grandkids couldn’t be with her, so she was working from home at the table and I just laid there and watched her work, and it gave me that peace that she was with me and something to focus on.” 

Wiggins works at Bearden Funeral Home in Dawson County, and he said that through his job he sees what this ability to communicate means to not only the patients, but the families too. 

“I know what it means to families that have not been able to get in there with their loved ones that have passed away, so it’s just something that’s been heavy on my heart that I want to do,” Wiggins said. “I think it’s a necessity, especially in this day in time when families can’t be there with their loved ones.” 

Wiggins was able to get pricing on how much the iPads would cost, and so far they have raised enough money to buy 18 of the 22 iPads. Any money he receives over that amount will go into purchasing more iPads for other floors in the hospital, he said. 

“I’m looking forward to reaching my goal, to going in there and presenting them with a check to purchase those 22 iPads,” Wiggins said. “I’ve been blessed with the donations that have come so far, it’s just been a blessing to me.” 

Those wanting to donate to Wiggins cause can visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/ipad039s-for-icu, by sending money via PayPal to randcwiggins@windstream.net, or you can drop off a check to Rick Wiggins at Bearden Funeral Home.