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Community Support Initiatives with Loyola Student Response Team

Last Updated: September 11, 2020


Since its inception in April 2020, the Community Support Team of Loyola's Student Response has strived to alleviate the burden placed by COVID-19 on our frontline healthcare workers and the broader communities. In collaboration with our community and institutional partners, we have mobilized a volunteer workforce to systematically respond to the demands placed by the pandemic. This initiative has been led by Tooba Ghous (MS3) and more recently Rabab Zaidi (MS4) and Jane Harter (MS2). The team houses eleven Loyola specific initiatives in addition to having numerous partnerships with greater Chicago area campaigns. One of the first initiatives formed was the COVID-19 hotline that was staffed by over 65 clinical medical students. Our students answered over 4,000 calls from community members over a course of 235 hours. The Hotline Leadership Team led by Eda Akyar (MS4), Giselle Malina (PGY-1), Brianna Martinez (MS4), Parker Stride (MS4) then trained and re-certified over 30 nursing staff members to manage the line. The initiative was critical to filling an immediate need of the community until the hospital was able to staff the hotline with paid employees. The Community Support Team has also worked on three distinct personal protective equipment (PPE) projects, including mask distribution in the local community, mask making for healthcare workers of Loyola University Medical Center, and a partnership with GetMePPE Chicago. The Masks for Maywood Initiative led by Rabab Zaidi (MS4) donated over 800 masks for volunteers and community members in Maywood. Another focus of the Community Support Team has been food distribution, both to the frontlines and the community. Led by Tooba Ghous (M3) and Mayuri Yasuda (M2), a number of our students volunteered with GetMePPE Chicago, a grassroots organization collecting donations of PPE from community members for distribution to healthcare workers. Over 100,000 pieces of PPE were distributed through GetMePPE Chicago. The Feeding the Frontlines Initiative led by Samantha O’Conner (MS4), Kyle Wieschhaus (MS4) and Kevin Singh (MS4) raised nearly $12,000 worth of meals for Loyola healthcare staff and provided over 1,046 meals. The Emergency Food Assistance for Maywood Initiative led by Aleksander Druck (MS4) and Samantha O'Conner (MS4) has raised nearly $2,900 to date to support food drives and wholesome food distribution in Maywood and is continuing to fundraiser. The Community Support Team has also developed creative ways to provide resources and thoughtful moral support for frontline healthcare workers through the Art for Residents, Letter Writing, Narrative Medicine, Ad Hoc Physician Assistant, and Educational Support Initiatives. The Ad Hoc Physician Assistant Initiative led by Brendan Daly (MS4) and Kevin Singh (MS4) allows healthcare faculty and staff to request the service of a medical student to support them outside the hospital by providing childcare, buying groceries, or whatever else they might need. The Educational Support Initiative led by Philip Ghobrial (MS4) pairs the children of faculty with medical students to provide virtual tutoring. The Arts for Residents initiative led by Madeline Gore (MS4) collected over 50 drawings and art pieces made by children to share with resident physicians. The Letter Writing Initiative led by Carolyn Hofmeister (MS4), Shilpa Kolachina (MS4), and Melissa D'Andrea (MS4) distributed thank you notes to healthcare workers at Loyola University Hospital. The Narrative Medicine Initiative led by Rabab Zaidi (MS4) is currently collecting written or visual submissions about the experiences of our community members during the pandemic, which will be published on a blog on our Community Support website. Most recently, the Community Support Team has added two initiatives related to Immigrant Health. The first is medical declaration writing through a partnership with Chicago People's Rights Collaborative. Stritch students Jane Harter (MS2), Jannie Bolotnikov (MS2), and Fidak Khan (MS2) have been assisting expert physicians in drafting medical declarations to demand the release of immigrants with pre-existing conditions from ICE detention centers due to risks imposed by COVID-19. The second Immigrant Health Initiative is through a partnership with Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, led by Geoffrey Cheng (MS2) and April Alcantara (MS2). Mandarin and Cantonese speaking students are assisting with staffing a community hotline in addition to appointment triage for Chinese American community members. The Community Support Team will continue to respond to the evolving needs of our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information or to contact us, please visit our website listed below. 


Jane Harter (jharter@luc.edu)