Health care professionals need to be at work more urgently than ever. And the stress of being away from home and family can be overwhelming. That’s why medical students from Tufts University and the University of New England — joined by students in other prehealth programs (PA, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing) at UNE, the University of Southern Maine and surrounding schools — are stepping up to help local health care workers with child care, pet sitting and household chores. And the services are free.
Called Maine COVID Sitters, the all-volunteer project was conceived and created in less than 48 hours with the help of MN COVID Sitters, who provided the resources to get off the ground quickly. At mecovidsitters.org, students can sign up to volunteer and be matched with health care workers in their area. Within 24 hours, the group received its first request, and the demand has been growing every day. Volunteers take special precautions to keep themselves and the families they serve safe. They currently assist employees from Maine Med, Mercy Hospital, Southern Maine Health Care, Central Maine Medical Center and more, and they’re hoping to expand to help more people.
"As students, we’re not in a position to directly help patients," said Laura Knapik, a second-year UNE student, sitter and Maine COVID Sitters’ founder and director of operations. "Rather than just stand on the sidelines, this is something we can actively do to help those people who are on the front lines, who are seeing patients, to make it a little bit easier for them to do what they need to do to keep our community safe." She added, "I felt I didn't want to just stay inside. I wanted to figure out a way to help my future colleagues."