Medical students create 'CovidSitters' to help healthcare workers

Medical students across our area are teaming up to help those on the front lines of the battle against coronavirus. Health care workers and first responders are up against a demanding crisis, while many still have to worry about getting groceries or who can watch their kids. Houston CovidSitters is helping to ease those burdens.

There are lots of ways medical students can pass the time while shut-in.

“Netflix and Disney Plus are great, but at the end of the day I want to look back and know that I did everything I could to help others,” says third-year medical student Rachel Cowley.

Baylor College of Medicine students were pulled from learning in hospitals in March but wanted to lend a hand to their local role models from a distance. They started Houston CovidSitters, giving frontline workers childcare, pet sitting, and also running their errands for free.

“A lot of us went into medicine wanting to help in situations like this,” adds Kristen Brown.

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The program has also launched online tutorials. 

“Anything from elementary school social studies and math to ESL and all the way to AP physics and AP calculus,” describes Anoosha Moturu, founder and manager of CovidTutors. “We have expertise in a wide variety of subjects, and I think that can be really helpful.”

Students from other local graduate programs have jumped in, adding up to a total of 150 CPR-certified volunteers. Many of them continue to get COVID-19 updates directly from their med school hospitals.

With the additional information, they’re also helping create family emergency plans.

“If the mom is exposed, I have certain things I have to do to get the kids ready to spend the next two weeks with grandma,” explains Cowley.

Based on their needs, some families get more than one volunteer, but each volunteer is assigned one home to limit exposure.

“They are very careful about themselves being protected, and they know first and foremost to do no harm,” says Moturu.

Not quite an M.D. but with a great degree of selflessness, the COVID sitters are helping health care workers in the ways they can before they’re certified to stand beside them on the front lines.

The local branch is also a part of a larger network of groups across the U.S., some in cities hit hardest by the virus. For more info, visit https://www.htxcovidsitters.org/.

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