uOttawa medical students find a new way to support front-line health care workers

uOttawa students are stockpiling medical equipment from community donations. Ottawa, ON. March 24, 2020 (Tyler Fleming / CTV News Ottawa)

Medical Students at the University of Ottawa are volunteering their time, calling on local business and community members to donate unused medical supplies to support front-line health care workers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a huge shift in the way the medical students learn.   Classes have moved online, meetings with educators are via email, and for students who have patient rounds in the hospital; not anymore.

“Before this I would be waking up at 5:30 a.m. to go into surgery and round on patients,” said Jonathan Whelan, a third-year medical student.

Whelan isn’t able to work in the hospital due to the pandemic, but wanted to contribute any way that he could. He and other students rallied together to setup uOttawa COVID Sourcing. This initiative asks local businesses and community members to donate whatever medical supplies they can, to help front-line health care workers battling COVID-19.

“We’ll need more surgical masks, face visors, gowns, gloves, and especially viral swab kits,” said Kameela Alibhai, a first-year medical student. 

More than 140 students from the medical program stepped up, drafting lists of businesses, making calls and coordinating pickup times for people who have made donations.

“This equipment is coming from all over,” says Cristina Andronic, a third year student who is also unable to attend patient rounds at the hospital. “From people who have said they have found a few boxes of gloves in their basement to places like nail salons, physio therapy clinics and dental clinics.”

The medical students realize the importance of ensuring enough medical supplies are on-hand for health care workers. 

“Everyone will benefit from this, from the big hospitals dealing with the emergent patients and ICU patients, to hopefully all the way down to smaller community hospitals and hospices.”

The students are calling on shuttered business who would carry personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, gowns, face masks, viral swab test kits and hand sanitizer and wipes to donate the items. Stockpiling the equipment to allocate them when and where they would be needed the most.

If you can make a donation, you can email covidsourcingottawa@gmail.com and coviddonations@toh.ca