This volunteer project grew from a collaboration with Dr. Steven Murphy, who is a faculty member at New York Medical College (NYMC) and a primary care doctor in the local community. As COVID-19 cases began appearing in Connecticut, Murphy Associates was one of the first non-hospital medical groups to set-up multiple drive-through centers for COVID-19 testing. Thousands of new patients registered within a few weeks and continue to register for testing each day. With the rapid expansion of drive-through sites to six different locations, the practice took on up to 200 hundred new volunteers between on-site and remote opportunities, including healthcare workers, students, and local community members.
Based on school and governing medical body recommendations about minimizing risk exposure, NYMC partnered with Dr. Murphy to identify areas where students could be of assistance in a remote capacity to create a supportive infrastructure for this ever-expanding network of patients and volunteers. Using a service-learning model, students participate in inter-professional collaboration with the community volunteer representative and patient relations liaison on a variety of tasks, including:
- Contact patients that have expressed concerns/frustrations outside of formal screening and follow-up appointments;
- Help with volunteer on-boarding for drive-through test centers;
- Coordinate staffing and scheduling at drive-through sites;
- Reach out to local vendors/members of the community to get support for donations of meals, drinks, PPE, and comfort items for volunteers; and
- Produce weekly newsletters to update volunteers, patients, and staff on the latest scientific news, tips for staying safe, state and local statistics, and successes in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
This opportunity allows students to provide a much-needed interface between the medical community, the patient community, and the volunteer community. By identifying the different needs of these communities during this pandemic and finding ways to meet those needs, we can provide better medical care to patients and more robust support to the healthcare workers and local volunteers on-site day after day.
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