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UNMC COVID Relief (UNMC CoRe): Child & Pet Care, Community Mask Sewing, and Personal Protective Equipment Distribution

Last Updated: May 21, 2020


UNMC CoRe: Covid Relief is an interdisciplinary, student-run initiative at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) designed to connect students and community members with opportunities to assist throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. The organization is currently focused on three primary initiatives: 

  • Childcare & Pet Care: Healthcare providers at UNMC are paired with a “pod” of 3 to 5 students for in-home childcare, pet care, and errand running. This “pod” format was adopted to 1) limit in-home exposure contacts to a small cohort of students and 2) allow for workload sharing amongst students needing to maintain curricular commitments. While initially offered as a service to residents, fellows, and physicians, we are gradually offering these services to other professionals as our volunteer pool expands. Scheduling and logistics are coordinated within each individual pod and, as needs change, the pod may request additional volunteer support. This initiative was modeled after the MN COVIDsitters organization. 
  • PPE Donations: Student volunteers are collecting and distributing PPE to clinics and hospitals in Omaha and Greater Nebraska, with an emphasis on supporting smaller, under-resourced clinics and federally qualified health centers. Local supplies are sourced from local businesses, community donations, and excess or unusable materials from our university's clinical partner (Nebraska Medicine). Supply chains were enhanced through partnerships with regional and national PPE initiatives (#GetUsPPE, Medical Supply Drive). Key community partners include organized medical societies (Nebraska Medical Association, Metro Omaha Medical Society) who have helped with needs assessment, supply purchases, and broader distribution to rural areas. 
  • Community Mask Sewing: Using a network of 77 student drivers and 347 community mask sewing volunteers, we are making masks from Halyard H100 surgical wrap based on the University of Florida design to supply local inpatients, visitors, essential non-clinical staff, and volunteers. Within a 30-mile radius of UNMC, student volunteers deliver kits to the doorstep of community sewers with all necessary materials and instructions needed to produce our masks. One week later, students return to retrieve the completed masks and, if requested, deliver additional mask-making materials. Completed masks are then sterilized by Nebraska Medicine before being distributed. 

Outcomes by the Numbers (as of 05/01/2020, with additional future outcomes anticipated): 

  • 181 College of Medicine (M1: 29, M2: 72, M3: 62, M4: 18), 20 College of Allied Health, 3 College of Dentistry, 2 College of Nursing, 3 College of Pharmacy, 7 College of Public Health, and 10 Graduate Studies students have signed up to volunteer (Total 228) 
  • 1712 community mask sewers signed up to volunteer, 347 active 
  • 13 healthcare providers having received child & pet care 
  •  ~20,000 masks have been sewn for use by inpatients, essential non-clinical staff, visitors, and volunteers 
  • 39,088 face shields, 1,590 N95 & KN95 masks, 26 boxes of procedural masks, 84 dust masks, 40 boxes of gloves, 80 coveralls, 17 lab coats, 19 shoes covers, 15 sanitizing items, etc. have been distributed to 131 clinics, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers in Omaha and Greater Nebraska 
  • 60 fabric masks have been donated to local community organizations 
  • 3988 3D-printed/injection molded face shields have been assembled and distributed to Nebraska Medicine clinics 

Although in their early stages, future plans include:

  1. increasing mask distribution to supply local community partners serving vulnerable populations,
  2. staffing a contact-tracing call center for our state and local health agencies, and 
  3. serving as surge capacity for our clinical partner (Nebraska Medicine) in nasopharyngeal swab collection. Through this organization, College of Medicine M3 and M4 students will be able to fulfill service-learning requirements as part of their 'Impacts of Infectious Diseases' course. UNMC CoRe functions in coordination with and under the direction of the University of Nebraska Medical Center Incident Command Operations section. 


Taylor Kratochvil, M.S., University of Nebraska Medical Center
RemyGrace Sass, B.A., University of Nebraska Medical Center
Hannah Tandon, B.A., University of Nebraska Medical Center
Keely Reidelberger, M.S., University of Nebraska Medical Center
Rohan Khazanchi, B.A., University of Nebraska Medical Center