As universities close during the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of students at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine decided to put their free time to good use and create a network of volunteers helping frontline health care workers in the city.
The group is called “COVID-19 Student support initiative”. It pairs up students in the health domain with a local frontline health care worker in need of help with errands, grocery shopping, pet sitting and childcare.
Year-one medical students Anne Xuan-Lan Nguyen, Zoe O’Neill, Laura Pinkham along with PhD student Adamo Donovan organized the initiative through Zoom meetings in order to respect social-distancing guidelines.
“It feels like a good way to give back at this time,” Pinkham told Global News.
The group says it has already received the applications of over 60 students and 20 health professionals.
They’ve made 10 pairings so far with the biggest need being childcare.
“We’re not trying to replace childcare but to bring some relief,” Pinkham explained.
Pinkham says they limit pairings to only one person per health care worker and respect all the guidelines issued by health officials in order to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Those who are interested in volunteering or getting help need to fill out an online form. Once that is done, it takes the group about 20 minutes to do a pairing.
Pinkham says that despite first year medical students being “back at school” with a full online course-load, interest is growing.
“It’s definitely very motivating and inspiring to be involved with it,” Pinkham said.
According to Pinkham, the initiative started in Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine in Ontario and has spread across the country.
The student hopes they can continue to provide help to over-extended frontline workers for as long as needed.
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