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Patient’s family donates iPads to hospital after being able to virtually share her final days with her

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Kim Blanchar taught in Indianapolis at Brebeuff Jesuit Preparatory School for 27 years. She passed away recently from COVID-19.

During her last days in the hospital her family was able to visit her virtually on the hospital’s iPads. Her family calls it a gift that they will cherish forever. Now they are working to make sure no family ever has to miss out on that opportunity.

Kim Blanchar would have turned 69 years old this week. She is described as a social butterfly who always looked to the bright side. Kim had multiple sclerosis, which took a toll on her physically, but doctors say it was her strong spirit that kept her fighting, not her body.

Photo courtesy Tammy Bowman

“She could make her own fun. You could be doing nothing but laughing and having a great time,” said Tammy Bowman, Kim’s sister.

“When I am out in public sometimes and try and talk to people I am like OK what would Kimmy do in this situation?” said Anna Bowman, Kim’s niece.

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Kim was admitted to IU West Hospital on April 6 after her fever rose to 107 degrees while at an assisted living facility. Since hospitals are not allowing visitors and Kim’s condition made it nearly impossible for her to talk on the phone, her family’s only way of communicating with her was on one of the hospitals two iPads which, as you can imagine, are hard to get a hold of.

“It was just so hard to know she was there and that none of us could be there or see her,” said Tammy.

Photo courtesy Tammy Bowman

Kim passed away on April 16. Days before that her niece, Anna, who lives out in California had already started raising money to get more iPads into the hospital.

“It was really hard not being with her. Not being able to hold her or her hold me,” said Anna.

Anna said that she wanted to find a way to come home and see her. But due to travel and hospital restrictions, she couldn’t.

The moments they were able to share with Kim with the help of her nurses wouldn’t have been possible without the technology. Sometimes when iPads were not available one of the nurses used her personal device to allow Kim’s family to talk to her.

“[The nurse] held it for one hour so that we could see my sister being awake,” said Tammy. “That was just so important. I just can’t even tell you how important it was.”

Video courtesy Tammy Bowman

More than $4,000 later, IU West now has 14 new iPads and nine new cases that were donated in Kim’s honor so that more families are able to make that special connection.

“To be able to have the iPad and sometimes we can even prop it up and just let them have a private moment with their family it makes a huge difference,” said Jade Vangundy, one of Kim’s nurses. Vangundy says she remembers how bright and beautiful Kim’s eyes were even when she was fighting for her life.

Vangundy says that even after the pandemic there are so many areas that the hospitals could use the iPads: for parents with babies in the NICU, for patients whose families live out of town, or for when there are visitor restrictions.

Now every iPad is marked in honor of the woman who dreamed of Hollywood.

Photo courtesy Tammy Bowman

“Having her name in lights now, it is just the best,” said Anna.

Kim’s family is raising money for another round of iPads to donate to the hospital. Already they have raised more than $6,000.

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