Student Organization COVID19 Westchester County Health Information and Community Resources Document
In the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, a group of students from New York Medical College (NYMC) has come together to create a comprehensive collection of information about the virus as well as social resources available to residents of Westchester County, New York. This project is a “live” Google document that is regularly updated and maintained by students at NYMC and includes an interactive table of contents for easy navigation. Each section of the document contains links to organizations’ websites as well as places to find additional information. The creation and distribution of this project was completely student organized. Our team consists of two editors-in-chief (M2s), eleven contributors (M1s and M2s), and two English to Spanish translators (M2s). Prior to the document's public release, it was reviewed and approved by NYMC administration and faculty, including the institution’s infectious disease department, the Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Director of Community Engagement.
The aim of this document was to create a centralized location for laypersons to learn about COVID-19 and its impact both locally and nationally. The document contains outbreak statistics, New York State government actions and mandates, health practices to keep individuals and their contacts safe and healthy, and information on testing methods and local testing locations. The majority of this document is dedicated to social resources available in Westchester County in this time of crisis. Specifically, the social resources we have compiled include food banks, childcare services, housing resources, employment information, resources for specific communities (such as healthcare providers, people with disabilities, senior citizens, undocumented immigrants, and others), domestic/sexual violence resources, and mental health services.
Thus far, we have spearheaded a social media campaign to distribute this document to members of the NYMC community, residents of Westchester County, and members of the healthcare community associated with NYMC (specially to clinical preceptors through the institution's Foundations of Clinical Medicine course). In order to ensure that this compilation of important information and social resources reaches communities that could benefit from it, we are also reaching out to specific local organizations to spread the word further. At present, the document has been made available online on websites of the Environmental Health Center, the Children’s Environmental Health Center of the Hudson Valley, and Feeding Westchester.
New York’s Westchester County was an early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, the NYMC curriculum transitioned to remote learning in early March. Within three weeks of the first COVID-19 cases in Westchester County, this document was made available to the public and our team has since continued its efforts to deliver up-to-date information and resources to communities who may find it useful. The document not only serves as a useful resource for laypersons, but also provides an outlet for medical student engagement with the COVID-19 pandemic using their unique skill set. Early in the virus outbreak, NYMC students were eager to volunteer their time. However, due to limitations barring medical students from hands-on volunteering as well as efforts to maintain social distancing in order to flatten the curve, this project served as a remote volunteer opportunity with which pre-clinical medical students could serve their community. Creating this document encouraged students to synthesize healthcare knowledge in a manner accessible to laypersons. Moreover, its development forced contributors to reflect broadly on social ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the accompanying hardships faced by different populations during periods of social distancing and government-mandated shutdowns.
Looking forward, we hope that this document can serve as a launching-off point for building and maintaining relationships between the NYMC community and local organizations in Westchester County. While this project was forged in response to crisis and designed to deliver virus information and social resources to communities in need, we now envision it as paving a path towards improved community-engagement for NYMC students beyond the COVID-19 outbreak and into the future.