TCOM students volunteer childcare for healthcare workers

By Steven Bartolotta

Covid-19 Sitters

It started with a simple social media post about volunteering time to help with the childcare needs of healthcare professionals. Several weeks later, it has blossomed into DFW COVIDsitters.

Last month, Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine third-year student Lexy Kindt was working at Cook Children’s Hospital as COVID-19 was rapidly spreading, shutting down businesses of all stripes. Particularly, schools and daycares.

Kindt understood the struggles healthcare professionals were having with childcare options, making an already taxing situation even more difficult.

After a quick post to Facebook, Kindt teamed up with fellow TCOM third-year students Nivedha Sukumar and Abhi Ganesh to round up students to meet the need of healthcare workers for childcare help. They found many willing volunteers.

“I feel a lot of our fellow students are excited about an opportunity to help out in any way they can,” Sukumar said. “Many of our peers even personally reached out and offered to help us in any other ways we needed.”

Soon, the trio was off and running. They came up with the name DFW COVIDsitters, but they realized that putting together such a childcare operation was going to be a logistical challenge. The team got assistance from Faeeza Faroq, with the American College of Emergency Physicians, who helped connect the students with providers looking for help.

“The healthcare organizations and providers we have contacted have been very supportive,” Ganesh said. “They have been posting on their organization social media, reposting on their own social media and really trying to help us get the word out. It’s been extremely encouraging for us to keep building this platform and making this process more streamlined for families and those in the community.”

The students, knowing that they are still a year away from joining the profession, felt a responsibility to help out in any way they could.

“It is very rewarding to be able to help out in some way,” Kindt said. “Many of us wish we could be helping out on the frontline. But since we can’t, the next best thing is helping those who are.”

The team launched a website the first week of April, and the inquiries have started to roll in. The group also has around 10-15 students who have expressed an interest in lending a helping hand. The labor of love won’t be foreign to Ganesh, who has two years’ worth of experience as a preschool teacher before arriving at TCOM.

While the students do their part in helping frontline healthcare workers with childcare needs, all three have made sure the workload of their medical school studies has been manageable.

Asked if someone had told her six weeks ago what could be achieved by now, Sukumar admitted, “I don’t think I would have believed you.”

COVID-19 didn’t come with a playbook. It has forced a world to change in ways nobody would have believed six weeks ago. TCOM students eager to contribute have found unorthodox ways to do so, and DFW COVIDsitters is one of them.

“It has been pretty hard to sit down on the sidelines during this crisis,” Sukumar said. “I’ve been thankful that we are doing what we can with social distancing measures so our healthcare workers can fight this fight with the best chance. Moreover, I’m excited that DFW COVIDsitters can be of a resource for them as well.”

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