Rady students step up to help with COVID-19 response in Manitoba
Over 600 students across the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences have stepped up to assist with COVID-19 response efforts.
Since the COVID-19 crisis began, the Rady Faculty has been working collaboratively with Shared Health to find ways for students to contribute. Students are helping to screen individuals at the entry points of Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre, Grace and St. Boniface hospitals, asking people for their purpose of entry, travel history, and if they are experiencing symptoms. They are also assisting front-line workers at the drive-thru testing centres.
Stephanie Bansee, a third-year College of Pharmacy student, is volunteering as a screener. For her, becoming a health-care professional means putting the health and safety of patients and the community first.
“It’s important to me to help alleviate some of the pressures people are facing in these current circumstances, as both patients and health-care workers need support during this time,” said Bansee.
Amy Sahai, third-year student in the Max Rady College of Medicine and president of the class of 2021, said she and other members of the college’s student leadership have taken on the responsibility to organize and mobilize med student volunteers in additional areas such as assisting with screening at Access centres.
“As future physicians, we feel it is our duty to serve our community as professionals,” said Sahai. “For so many students, there was no question about whether or not we wanted to help, and many were ready to mobilize in any capacity needed right away.”
Third-year medical student George Cai is working 11-12 hour days to inform students about opportunities, follow up with sites, and handle logistics such as confirming schedules and parking.
He is also involved with getting new initiatives off the ground. A group of physicians proposed having medical student volunteers scheduled around the clock to audit and coach health-care workers at the HSC ER as personal protective equipment was used and discarded. The project is currently being piloted with the hope that it will reduce contamination and wastage of resources.
Another initiative will have medical students contact potentially affected individuals and follow up with them over phone.
“This will expand the capacity of Manitoba Health and improve the care and well-being of Manitobans who need to be socially-isolating but not isolated,” said Cai.
Other medical students have partnered with Doctors Manitoba to provide child care, pet care, errands and grocery services to health-care workers in the Winnipeg region. Third-year medical students Fiona Vickers and Cole Kubay teamed together to organize a childcare task force.
Vickers said that when she heard that schools were closing, she offered to babysit as a way for her to give back to one of her mentors, a doctor and single father of two daughters, who she said had been a pillar of support for her as a med student.
“It got me thinking about other doctors who have found themselves in the same situation,” said Vickers. “As med students we are accustomed to being busy and feeling useful, and when our clerkship was put on hold, we needed to find a way to sustain that. Our role has changed, but we have found ways to bring support to those who are still working with patients.”
Other volunteer activities have included delivering food hampers for community organizations and contacting organizations and companies to recruit personal protective equipment to replenish the stock for frontline workers.
More than 100 fourth-year College of Nursing students are working with Health Links and senior students have been staffing the Health Links lines as screeners as their community health course requirement. Full story here.
Rita Wang, a first-year student in the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry, is volunteering as a screener at HSC through the Rady Faculty-organized volunteer opportunities. She believes this is a time for students, who will become health-care professionals, to demonstrate leadership and support the healthcare system to the best of their abilities.
“Participating in screenings at hospitals, helping to manage calls and so on are all great opportunities to take action and help protect the patients, the public, as well as our frontline workers,” said Wang.
Winnipeg Free Press: Health-care students give it the old college try