SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) students have organized a COVID-19 response team to help their mentors and future colleagues on the front lines and community.
The Association of American Medical Colleges recommended on March 17 that institutions temporarily suspend medical students’ participation in any activities that involve patient contact due to shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) and other concerns.
However, medical students tell News 3 they are still in touch with physicians who are working inside hospitals. They said the crisis has only further fueled their desire to help.
“To see the response of the medical community, and how willing they are to be sleeping in the hospitals and honestly be risking their lives and their kids’ lives, that to me has just been the biggest thing,” said Marissa D’Souza, one of the response team organizers.
D’Souza said nearly 100 students from across Coastal Georgia are volunteering their efforts. Groups are working at testing sites and blood drives. They are also helping to collect groceries for the immunocompromised and canned goods to donate to Second Harvest food bank.
“I think as students, it’s easy to get bogged down with next week’s test or this week’s assignments and so taking a step back from the hospital has really given me a refreshed sense of why I chose to go into medicine in the first place,” said Courtney Stone, a Mercer student.
The students have been collecting masks and hospital gowns. They have also raised nearly $2,400 to purchase more personal protective equipment for hospitals, hospices, and EMS workers.
A group of medical students from the Medical College of Georgia Southeast Campus has joined efforts with the Mercer response team to organize a morale-boosting drive. The group created 450 care packages last weekend with “thank you” notes for healthcare workers.
Students tell News 3 all of their initiatives are not only fulfilling their desire to help but also confirming their choice of profession.
“I found that this experience has lit a fire for the passion that I already had, to see the response from the community coming together, to know it’s not just the doctors and nurses, it’s everybody that’s coming together to help people get better and to protect people from getting sick,” said Vivian Anderson, a Mercer student.
If you have any food bank donations, you can leave them outside your doorstep at 12 p.m. on Thursday, 4/30, and volunteers will collect them.
If you need groceries delivered, would like to write a thank-you note, volunteer, or donate money to help the cause, click here.