After being pulled from hospitals and clinical rotations to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus, students across the state came together to help our beloved healthcare workers behind the scenes as they battled this pandemic on the frontlines. With such close proximity to New York, Neil K. Jain, M4, felt the weight right here at home. He participated in a few national taskforces such as The Emergency Design Collective before founding the COVID-19 New Jersey Medical Student Coalition on April 1, 2020. The COVID-19 New Jersey Medical Student Coalition is a mobilizing Medical Student Initiative put forth by medical students across the state. We work alongside with the Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) and the Medical Student Section (MSS). Neil’s efforts in forming this Coalition have aligned medical and dental students from Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Cooper Medical School at Rowan University, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson, and Rutgers School of Dental Medicine. Below you can find our mission and descriptions of our initiatives.
During these unprecedented times when this pandemic has been unforgiving to our fellow Americans and has placed our healthcare workers on the frontlines, medical students across New Jersey have come together to lend a hand. We are mobilizing medical students and gathering resources to serve our communities. From creating face shields and gathering personal preventative equipment to delivering groceries and coordinating convalescent blood donations, our coalition is taking initiatives to help fight this disease. As our nation and state continue to face this challenge, our commitment as medical students will always be the same: stepping up to ensure the safety and health of our citizens.
PPE Demand Initiative: This team assesses the personal protective equipment (PPE) and intubation box needs of 100+ health care institutions across the state. Our reach is expansive, extending to nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, and long-term care facilities that are becoming increasingly in need of resources.
PPE Donation Initiative: The donation team reaches out to various organizations to acquire PPE in the form of 3D printed face shields, 3D printed masks, cotton masks, protective eyewear, etc. We have connected with 20+ companies, academic institutions, and individuals who are producing and donating PPE. A few notable companies that we have collaborated with are AloYoga, Bergen MakerSpace, Bergen Mask Taskforce, BlueSpot AI, iEDM, and Sew Strong.
PPE Distribution Initiative: Our team has donated over 14,000+ items of PPE throughout 50+ hospitals, dental clinics, and long-term healthcare facilities in New Jersey.
Face Shield Assembly Initiative: This team focuses on the creation of face shields. We have three major production branches (North Jersey, Central Jersey, and South Jersey) which are in operation every weekend. Thus far, the team has created over 5000 face shields. Our fundraising and supply chain teams resource the production of our face shields. Our DIY face shields tutorials are posted throughout our social media platforms to empower the community to create their own protection.
Grocery Initiative: This team aims to provide help and resources to high-risk individuals in our own neighborhoods, while still practicing preventative measures to avoid further spread of the virus. Though many businesses are currently closed in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, grocery stores and essential businesses still remain open and pose a potential threat to the at-risk populations. As part of our Grocery initiative, our services include pick-up and delivery to the following populations: the elderly, individuals with disabilities, high-risk individuals for COVID19, and individuals who are unable to obtain transportation. In South Jersey, our volunteers are making weekly deliveries to over ten families in local communities, as well as assisting with a weekly drive-through food pantry distribution service where they see over 100 families. Furthermore, we are in the process of starting up a delivery service to an apartment complex located in Camden, NJ. In Central Jersey, volunteers are in the process of starting up a delivery service to three senior apartment complexes in Old Bridge, NJ. In North Jersey, we are delivering to individual families that have difficulty procuring groceries through the help of Parsippany Troy-Hills Township Mayor's Action Center.
Convalescent Plasma and Blood Donation Initiative: This project focuses on assisting hospitals and blood banks with support for convalescent plasma programs, that were just federally approved. This entails, but is not limited to, promoting the COVID-19 convalescent plasma programs through diverse social media platforms, coordinating efforts between hospital and participating blood banks, assisting with the recruitment process, and directing donors and families to appropriate avenues about the program, and management of databases. Furthermore, other projects include increasing awareness of whole blood and plasma donation and the organization of blood drives. Organization and management of blood drives. Thus far, our team has successfully completed our first plasma donor screening project with Christ Hospital where we were able to connect with over 50 community members who are recovering/have recovered from COVID and would like to donate their plasma. In addition, we have some members working at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center on IRB-approved research projects in regard to convalescent plasma and blood donation. Throughout the month of June, we have secured spaces to host state-wide blood drives to replenish the blood shortage.
Dental Care and Education Initiative: This team focuses on the needs of dental clinics in New Jersey. Dentists are struggling to obtain PPE and barriers to create a safe environment for their patients. This team designs and works particularly with the Bergen Makerspace to create plexiglass barriers to further provide protection for dentists and dental technicians.
Education and Childcare Initiative: This team aims to provide free tutoring and education to children throughout New Jersey. 1) The team collaborates with elementary and middle schools to provide students support with homework, assignments, and challenging concepts. This includes virtual 1-on-1 and group tutoring sessions. 2) The services have extended to high school students who are applying to college, where team members assist with writing college application essays and resume review services. 3) Along with the dental care and education team, the teams are working to create "A Quarantine Challenge Book" for children.
Crisis Prevention and Mental Health Initiative: This team focuses on improving the mental health of our community in New Jersey. Along with the New Jersey Psychiatric Association, we are in the works to establish a mental health crisis helpline for civilians to call.
Marketing and Public Relations Initiative: This team has been working tirelessly to create the narrative of our story. We are constantly seeking to build our organization’s reputation and establish relationships with hospitals, suppliers, donors, and NJ residents. We have posted much of our efforts online - including face shield deliveries and providers wearing our donated PPE. Through our social media platforms, we are displaying our service efforts and engaging with the public via live streams and private messages. Our online presence has become not only a tool to advertise our efforts but a sentiment of hope and initiative we aim to instill in the residents of NJ. The NJMSC's efforts have been recognized on several platforms, including the Star-Ledger (local newspaper), MSNJ and RowanSOM newsletters.
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