"Calls of Kindness" fight isolation for seniors during pandemic

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- Throughout the pandemic, there's been a lot of concern about seniors being isolated.

Independence Blue Cross is keeping its Medicare members connected, through what's called Calls of Kindness.

"I've been in this apartment for over 3 months," says Dale R. Robinson, leaning into the camera on a Zoom call with Action News.

Since March, the 91-year-old Robinson hasn't gone beyond the balcony of her West Chester apartment.

"I have a very lovely son who's taken good care of me," she says.

But while her family brings food and supplies, the pandemic "has been quite a drag" in Robinson's view.

A neighbor has been her only other main contact.

"I have a very dear friend Tracy, who's very helpful. And she was tossing things up on my balcony," says Robinson about her effort to get a black pen to fill out a form.

IBC volunteers like Diana Zalewski also help ensure she's not lonely.

So far, they've called over 2,500 Medicare members.

Other teams within IBC have made more than 25,000 calls to members with chronic medical conditions.

On Dale's first call she needed help finding toilet paper.

"Diana was responsible for finding different access people that she knew, and seeing what they could do," she said, praising her caller.

"We have some volunteers who are making 50 calls a week. they're doing it in their free time, they're doing it during lunch, they're doing it after 5 o'clock, when they just get off. We have some making calls on weekends," says Zalewski.

Dale and Diana says they've also enjoyed just chatting, or just 'hanging out' as Dale says.
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