Jessica Gormley, Ph.D., assistant professor and speech pathologist at the Munroe-Meyer Institute, was part of a nationwide effort by members of the Patient Provider Communication Forum to produce free online communication resources to patients and their health care workers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., Dr. Gormley said, there's a huge influx of patients who have been placed on ventilators.

"When people are intubated, they can't speak, and those are the people that we as a group have been serving since the network was established," she said. "We knew that there was going to be a huge number of people who might not have access to high-tech tools, such as communication tablets or apps, and we wanted to share resources that could be quickly downloaded, printed, and sent off to the nurses who are on the front lines, interacting with the patients."

Dr. Gormley reached out to Richard Hurtig, an emeritus professor at the University of Iowa, who also is the founder and chief scientific officer of a company called Voxello, to inquire if there were any materials the group might freely print out to give to front-line nurses and health care providers.

"His company develops specialized communication equipment for patients in the hospital and uses high-tech apps, and I was curious if he had screen shots he'd be willing to share."

Hurtig went one better, virtually meeting with a group of 11 speech-language pathologists, nursing leaders and engineers from the Patient Provider Communication Network to discuss how to get as many resources out to people as quickly as possible. The U.S. Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communications supported the forum in creating the materials.

"We got all this material done within a week, and my role was to help coordinate the group," Dr. Gormley said. "I've been helping to set up meetings and to design and put content on the website.

"These tools can be used by anyone at the patients' bedside to help them communicate."

The response has been enthusiastic.

"We've been getting nice reception from the website and sharing it on social media. For the past three days, we've had more than 1,000 views of the website from all over the world. So I know people are interested, provider-wise. We blasted everything out of Sunday night (March 22). It all happened really fast."

At the time this article was written, approximately 10,000 users have accessed the website and the page has been viewed over 28,000 times.