Medical students provide free childcare; tutoring to Health Care Workers during COVID-19 crisis

News Release, MD COVIDSitters

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A Successful Idea That Has Spread Rapidly Throughout the Country

[Upper Marlboro, MD, July 9, 2020]– MD COVIDsitters is a group of student volunteers that provide in-home support to health care workers fighting COVID-19 on the front lines. Medical students from the state of Maryland are offering free essential services like childcare, tutoring, pet-sitting, online classes, grocery shopping, PPE, and more to healthcare workers in the greater Maryland area.

After regular classes and clinical rotations were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students sought to support healthcare professionals in a new way. Medical staff is stretched thin right now, especially those who have children that can no longer attend daycare or school. MD COVIDsitters are available to fill in the gaps for medical staff so that their basic necessities are met during this period of crisis. To ensure the wellness of all individuals involved, students and other volunteers are ineligible to participate in the program if they have not passed a background check, experienced symptoms, or tested positive for COVID-19, recently traveled, or if the student is not fully immunized.

“Childcare is still preventing many essential workers from doing their jobs. Even with access to daycare increasing under Maryland’s plan to reopen, many daycares will continue keeping classes to a maximum of 10 children,” Ankita Gautam, medical student, and co-founder of MD COVIDsitters explains. “We still have many essential workers serving their communities and as nonessential workers return to the workforce, many families will be forced into finding alternate care.” 

Dr. Samhati Mondal, a cardiac anesthesiologist at the University of Maryland, knows this too well. “Being in a dual physician household, this pandemic has hit us hard,” explains Mondal, a mother of two working long hours who recently sought services through MD COVIDsitters. “MD COVIDsitters really takes a huge load off of us, knowing that we have someone to watch the kids. I don’t have to rush back home leaving everything at work when daycare closes.”

Alternate options like the one MDCS provides are becoming increasingly important. In Texas, COVID-19 cases reached 1,300 from child care facilities alone. While daycare environments routinely have providers caring for 10-15 children at once, MDCS volunteers are only allowed to serve one family at a time and are required to quarantine for 14 days if they switch to another family.

MD COVIDsitters has recently expanded to cover Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia due to increased demand and available volunteers. The organization started in Minnesota, and due to its immense success, medical students in other major cities like New York City, Chicago, and Pittsburgh have started their own chapters. MD COVIDsitters is just one of 30 branches located throughout the country, with more sister programs in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Sudan.

Due to their strong grassroots campaign and the assistance of several partner organizations, MD COVIDsitters has experienced tremendous growth. They currently have over 150 student volunteers in over 18 counties throughout Maryland, Washington D.C., and Northern Virginia, and these numbers continue to grow daily.

Healthcare workers in the Maryland, Washington D.C., and North Virginia areas can request MD COVIDsitters’ services by signing up through their website,www.mdcovidsitters.org. Medical student volunteers looking to help out can also sign up through a form on the same website.

Maryland COVIDsitter’s mission is to serve healthcare providers, patients and communities here in Maryland during the coronavirus outbreak. We have recently expanded our services to cover Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia due to increased demand. Our goal is to identify the needs within our healthcare system and create teams of student volunteers to help address those needs. We want to start by helping those on the frontlines of COVID-19 who need help managing their household.