Coronavirus health: South Bay tech giant Cisco helps doctors move to video visits

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- With people obeying directives to shelter at home during the coronavirus pandemic, doctor visits are changing as appointments move to video calls.

Now, a South Bay tech giant is stepping up with donated equipment to make that possible.

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With Cisco's employees working from home, their teleconferencing equipment was sitting idle at the office. Then came the idea to donate it to hospitals so doctors can use it for patient visits.

A call went out for volunteers, and they mobilized quickly, disconnecting these high-quality video systems.

The first shipments were sent to New York-area hospitals with concerns about exposing patients with routine needs to the influx of COVID-19 patients.

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"While it started in the San Jose Bay Area, very quickly we actually expanded it to Europe, Australia and Asia Pacific as well," Cisco vice president Bailey Szeto said. "In fact the latest order, I think we just shipped about 95 units out of Asia Pac to the Tokyo area."

The video above shows photos of Cisco employees in Amsterdam, Australia and Spain boxing up the teleconferencing systems. The company says it's part of a commitment to help with $225 million in donations and aid.

More volunteers stepped forwarded than needed.

Of course, safety protocols were followed.

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"We actually practice social distancing," Szeto said. "The people who went in was a very limited number. Actually had full protective gear on and we just mobilized a very small team, uh, to go and do this work."

One of the hospitals receiving a donated system was Stanford Children's Health, which has seen its volume of telehealth visits soar from 30 a day to over 700. Physicians and occupational therapists say the advanced systems provide better care.

"With image sharing, you're able to go closely in and see the shape of x-rays and the shape of the bones and really do a lot more education," said Vandna Mittal, Director of Digital Health.

Cisco's donation allows patients to stay at home. It also reduces hospital crowding.

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