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Dalhousie medical students start volunteer service for COVID-19 health workers

Medical students from Dalhousie University have launched a volunteer service to support healthcare workers who are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

University students in Halifax are volunteering to run errands, walk pets and buy groceries for healthcare workers tied to the office in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

The initiative organized by Dalhousie University medical students kicked off on Monday and already has roughly 30 young people from various allied healthcare programs signed up to serve their communities.

“We’re hoping that healthcare professionals and students can come together during this especially difficult time to support and deliver the best healthcare to the patient,” said Freddy Lee, co-organizer and president of the Dalhousie University Medical Students Society.

“We really believe that supporting our frontline workers in this way and provided these valuable services is much-needed at this time.”

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While unaffiliated formally with Dalhousie University, the ‘Dal Health Students for Healthcare Providers’ group is offering free childcare to health workers between March 23 and April 3, while schools in Nova Scotia are shuttered.

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Its volunteers can also transport items, visit elderly relatives, make trips to the grocery store and complete other tasks at the request of health workers scrambling to find assistance as they cope with the pandemic at work.

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“We’ve indicated that we’re quite flexible and if there are any services the volunteers can provide or the healthcare professionals may need, indicate that on our forms,” Lee told Global News.

Workers interested in enlisting the aid of volunteer students can do so by emailing DalStudentsforHCPs@gmail.com or filling out this online Google doc.

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There are six presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia and one confirmed case.

Lee said the safety of volunteers and healthcare workers is a top priority, and all the groups efforts will follow provincial protocols for social distancing and hygiene.

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To minimize the risk of spreading the infection, each student volunteer will be paired with a single family, and students who volunteer with seniors will not be allowed to volunteer elsewhere.

READ MORE: How Nova Scotia universities are responding to the coronavirus pandemic

Only those with childcare experience will be paired with healthcare workers in need of childcare services.

Students who are at risk of contracting COVID-19, have travelled or have been in contact with other travellers are also not permitted to volunteer.

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