Below we highlight several of the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine medical student service activities in response to COVID-19.
Virtual 5K to Benefit COVID Relief Student leadership of GCSOM’s Running Cclub created the Virtual 5K to benefit COVID relief as a way for not only students but also faculty, staff, administration, and community members to assist with COVID relief. Participants can participate for a $5 entry fee and then they are asked to “run, walk, or crawl” 3.1 miles anytime until June 15, 2020. Participants only have to submit a photo of their running watch or an app that displays their mileage and time. 100% of race profits will go to a COVID-19 relief charity, which the winner may choose from a provided list. In honor of fellow runner, Ahmaud Arbery, the race is named Run 4 the Frontline, Run with Maud.
PPE2NEPA Second year students at GCSOM quickly realized that a lack of PPE in healthcare settings was a huge problem, and it was a problem that they could actively address. Three students from the second year class created an initiative called PPE2NEPA, modeled after GetUsPPE.org, and worked quickly to set up a website and Instagram page where they could seek out unused PPE from various local businesses and deliver it to local healthcare centers. The students connected with local hospitals and asked them what they needed, and then started calling local businesses such as hair and nail salons and asked if they had any PPE that they would be able to donate. Students have been able to collect N95 masks, surgical masks, surgical gowns, and gloves and distribute them to the hospitals and the initiative has been transitioned to rising second year students to continue at least throughout the summer.
Meals for Medics GCSOM 3rd year students recognized that healthcare professionals in our communities were going to be working extremely hard in the coming weeks and months to combat COVID-19. Many local restaurants had begun to donate food which was extremely generous and well-received, but the food was often being donated during the day, only benefitting first-shift caregivers. GCSOM students, having been in the clinical setting for many months, recognized that third shift caregivers were not being taken care of in the same way, and started a GoFundMe page to fundraise to purchase meals for third shift workers. GCSOM students have since dropped off food to all employees on all floors of the hospital at two local hospitals and plan to continue to feed third shift caregivers as funds allow. Masked Bandits Masked Bandits is an initiative to collect cloth masks that is run by the Lackawanna and Luzerne Medical Societies. Two students at GCSOM are liaisons for the Medical Societies and GCSOM and have helped to coordinate the efforts.
Masked Bandits has three phases. Members of the community were called upon to make cloth masks and students as well as other community volunteers picked those masks up and delivered them to a local tuxedo rental company who cleaned the masks for free. Volunteers then distributed clean masks to those who requested them including local outpatient facilities, nursing homes, and neighborhood centers.
ESL Phone Tutoring United Neighborhood Centers’ Scranton Council of Literacy Advance (SCOLA) provides free adult literacy and English as a Second Language (ESL) education to the community. This vital service relies on a cadre of volunteers, including many GCSOM students, to operate. When COVID-19 prevented tutors and students from meeting for in-person lessons at UNC’s south Scranton offices, the GCSOM mentors quickly adapted to conducting their teaching via phone or Zoom. Numerous students have been involved in helping the SCOLA program go virtual, and tutors have had to get creative in connecting with ESL learners as many do not have reliable access to internet or have varying job schedules. GCSOM students are assisting ESL learners with phone skills, such as leaving voicemails and scheduling appointments, general English language lessons, and citizenship test preparation. As of June 1, students are also involved in teaching virtual Zoom classes, which were initially postponed due to COVID-19. The addition of these classes is important because it ensure that ESL learners remain on track and continue to be supported through this time of uncertainty.
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