Oakland University

03/27/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/28/2020 17:27

OUWB medical students volunteer to babysit children of Beaumont docs treating COVID-19 patients

Medical students from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine are filling a unique need by babysitting children for Beaumont Health physicians, residents, and anyone else working extra hard in the battle against COVID-19.

In less than a week, more than 40 OUWB medical students have volunteered to provide the much-needed child care.

It's much-needed help as Beaumont Health reportedly is treating more than 600 people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

Concurrently, medical students have been temporarily removed from the medical care setting for their safety, leaving them seeking out other ways to somehow get involved in helping 'flatten the curve ' of the COVID-19 pandemic.

'The willingness of OUWB students to serve the community during the Coronavirus outbreak was welcome, but not totally unexpected,' said Robert Noiva, Ph.D., associate dean of Graduate Studies & Community Integration and associate professor in the Department of Foundational Medical Studies, OUWB.

'Our students have always stepped forward to meet the needs of the community, recognizing the value that their expertise and commitment brings to the effort,' Noiva said.

'What was a surprise was the leadership and entrepreneurial spirit they have brought to the process,' he added.

Noiva said such student-initiated efforts, like the babysitting program, 'often have had the greatest impact.'

Third-year OUWB medical student (M3) Megan McCrohan said co-organizing the effort has been 'empowering'

'Within the first hour we had more than 25 students who said they were interested, which almost brought tears to my eyes because it was just so overwhelming that so many were willing to help,' she said. 'I think it speaks a lot to just how genuine everybody is in our community in wanting to step up and help out in any way that we can in any situation.'

McCrohan's co-organizers were OUWB M3 Evan Brickner and second-year medical student (M2) Rachel Harvey.

'We just want to help in any way possible,' said Harvey. 'Right now we can't be in the hospital, we can't provide any patient care - at this point, that's really the role of the physicians, nurses, and residents. If we can support them in any way as medical students, we're very eager to do that.'

Brickner echoed similar sentiments.

'I figured that if there was any way we could help in the community and with the health care workers especially, it would be a meaningful contribution,' he said.

Staying safe

Of course, the OUWB medical students say they are going to great lengths to ensure their own safety as well as those they are interacting with in the homes of each physician.

'OUWB faculty and staff ensure the safety of our students and workers in all of their activities, whether they be in the health care or community service setting,' Noiva said. 'We always review plans and procedures for service activities to try to minimize the risk.'

Noiva said that in many instances, such as with the babysitting program or other activities aimed at providing service for community youth, OUWB has 'special requirements to perform background checks on all of our students who participate.'

'Our Compass Center for Community Engagement staff takes volunteer and participant safety very seriously,' he added. (Compass is OUWB's department for community engagement.)

Additionally, the students are practicing social distancing and frequent hand-washing.

'We're stressing the importance of students having real and frank conversations with the doctors and residents they'll be helping with babysitting,' Brickner said.

Harvey said everyone involved is trying to minimize any potential risks.

'As soon as I get home from babysitting I'm going to change my clothes, shower, and wash the clothes that I was in,' she said.

Further, Harvey said that the medical students are trained extensively in the importance of cleanliness, starting from their first week of orientation at OUWB, and that has naturally prepared them for this situation.

'We have a lot of experience with PPE (personal protective equipment), good hygiene, and preventing the spread of disease,' she said. 'We're just trying to really implement that wherever possible while maintaining open communication with the providers we're working with.'

McCrohan said she understands the reasoning behind keeping medical students out of the hospitals, but admits it is 'a little bit conflicting because it's such an amazing learning opportunity.'

'I want to go into medicine pediatrics in a hospital setting so I think it would be really important for me to see how things play out in this situation,' she said. 'That being said, I also think we have to put our patients first and that means having the most experienced providers helping them at this time.

'I think it's really important that we can support physicians who are working extra hours and working very hard to fight COVID-19,' she added.

Beaumont Health personnel interested in working with an OUWB medical student on child care should fill out the form that can be found at https://oakland.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5hGxepGd6DInSN7

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at [email protected].

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