Editor’s note: Visit the official WesternCOVID-19 website for the latest campus updates.
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Medical students at Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry are helping a local effort to supply personal protective equipment to primary care teams across the London region.
Family doctors and medical clinics are facing a shortage of masks, gloves, gowns and face shields – protection needed as the number of COVID-19 cases mount.
Co-ordinated by the London Middlesex Primary Care Alliance, the grassroots initiative works with individuals and businesses, such as veterinary clinics, podiatrists and spas, to collect and donate unused supplies. As many businesses are closed or offering limited services during the pandemic, organizers say this is a practical way to address the shortage for front-line workers.
Third-year medical students Meera Shah, Adrina Zhong and Matthew Fung are part of the organizing team, collecting equipment from community donors, creating an inventory of the supplies and helping deliver them based on the need among local primary-care teams.
“Family doctors are the backbone of our health-care system,” Zhong said. “They need our support now more than ever.”
The students are also helping put together wellness packages for physicians and their teams, to boost motivation and morale. What started as thank-you cards and chocolates has now grown to include snacks, juice boxes and other goodies.
The community response to the initiative has been phenomenal, organizers say. In the first three days of operations, the team successfully delivered supplies to 21 physicians and their offices, with many requests pending. To date, they have received 14 donations from the community.
Today was a VERY busy day but amazing to see the local #ldnont community come together to support all #primarycare with donated PPE! Here were just some of the amazing folks dropping off unused PPE to be distributed out tomorrow! Thank you! pic.twitter.com/kvQyoZBIeg
— Janet Dang (@janetdangkeske) March 20, 2020
Shah says she’s also received messages from colleagues at other Ontario medical schools looking for ways to begin similar initiatives in their communities.
As clerks, clinical training has been paused for Shah, Zong and Fung, which prompted them to look for other ways to help.
“It’s not easy watching our colleagues struggle with the increasing demand,” Zhong said. “Like us, many clerks have turned to volunteering, as we are no longer able to be part of the front-line care team.”
Shah added, “We’re just happy to help and support physicians in their commitment to patient care.”
The initiative is evolving and expanding on a daily basis. The organizing team is now looking at ways to help hospitals and assessment centres with personal protective equipment and other equipment.
“We are getting a lot of community traction,” Shah said. “Health care is always about the team effort and this project is a prime example of why a good community team is so important.”
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TO DONATE. To donate personal protective equipment supplies and/or support this initiative, contact Janet Dang at email@example.com. Dang is located at the Thames Valley Family Health Team support office in Hyde Park.