Student Acts of COVID Kindness
As well as putting up their hands to assist frontline health workers in the Covid-19 response, via the SASH program, our students have been busy providing care packages, and household and childcare help.
Abbie Kanagarajah and Alex Chan signed up for the Students’ Assistance in Supporting Healthcare (SASH) initiative and wound up at Western Health. They offered their perspectives for SYN FM’s Happydemic podcast (tune in at 11:00). Abbie was also interviewed by China’s Xinhua news agency, along with Professor Stephen Lew at Western Health.
Adopt a Research Student
Research students at the best of times can be affected by isolation, so the StoRM (Students of Royal Melbourne) committee from 2019 came up with the idea of lockdown care packages. Seven past and present students prepared 60 packages containing chai concentrate, candles, lollies, chocolate, soap and other items. They went out to some 70 research students from the Parkville Precinct over March to May.
StoRM President Simren Seychell says, “We wanted to reach out to our research membership, as we understand that self-isolation can be very lonely, and we wanted our membership to feel connected within the student community.”
“It was fun meeting the student cohort's dogs, who were very happy to greet us at the door, and families”.
Adopt a clinician
From a laptop in his bedroom, third-year Doctor of Medicine (MD) student Daniel La Manna is coordinating household and childcare help for frontline health workers.
Daniel adopted the idea from his native Canada, where his girlfriend, a second-year med student, is running a similar initiative in Ontario (the two regularly swap notes).
Here, all MD students have a Working With Children Check. So far, Daniel has been approached by 60 volunteers and 60 clinicians – some of whom he says, were moved to tears at the prospect of help in the wings. This includes grocery runs, pet care, supervising online learning, and organising breakfasts and lunches. Potential volunteers and recipients simply email Daniel and he puts them in touch with each other. “The specifics are really ironed out between the two of them”.
Most of the matches have been through word of mouth, through his supervisors on a recently completed paediatrics clinical rotation. COVID-19 precautions include matching a student with only one family, and excluding students who may be in high-risk settings, such as hospitals.
“We’re still in school, technically,” he says. “But when others need help, we’re called to act as leaders in our community, and as eventual health care professionals. It’s quite inspiring to see and I’m very proud of the student body in this respect. A lot of amazing people have come forward”.
Daniel is also the student lead on the Department of Paediatrics’ weekly COVIOD-19 Kids Evidence Update.