News: Medical students providing support during COVID-19 containment effort

Medical students at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry are rallying to support their local communities and health care colleagues during the COVID-19 containment efforts.

The student-led initiative seeks to provide free childcare, errands and other volunteer services to health care providers in the London and Windsor areas between March 23 and April 3 while elementary and secondary schools in Ontario are closed.

It's being organized by medical students Yashoda Valliere, Gali Katznelson, Chris Zhang, Jessica Garabon and Montana Hackett.

The project was announced on Twitter by student leader Valliere, Medicine Class of 2020, where it has gained significant traction and sparked similar initiatives at medical schools across the country.

“London health care providers – Schulich Medicine 2020 students are offering free childcare, pickups and drop-offs, and errands while schools are closed. Contact me if you are in need so I can connect you with someone,” Valliere wrote on Twitter Saturday, announcing the initiative.

Since then, the post has been shared and liked more than 800 times.

Valliere said the idea for the initiative came from a desire by her and her classmates to support their health care colleagues while their own classes and clinical rotations are suspended.

“As Schulich Medicine students, we feel that we have been trained to be leaders in our communities and, although we are not yet physicians, we have an opportunity to support our colleagues,” said Valliere. “We are excited to begin this initiative, and we applaud our fellow medical students across the country who are now organizing in their own communities.”

The students are also working diligently through the process, prioritizing safety and maintaining social distancing. For example, student volunteers will be matched with a single family to minimize their contact, and only those with childcare experience can provide childcare.

As an added safety precaution, students who might interact with seniors will not volunteer in any other settings, and individuals who show any symptoms or would be considered at-risk will not be able to volunteer with the initiative.

The group is welcoming feedback and engaging with other health care professionals on additional provisions and best practices.

Dr. Davy Cheng, Acting Dean, said he is “very proud” of the medical students for their initiative.

Medical students interested in volunteering can sign up here.

Health care workers in need of assistance can complete an online request form here.