OHSU, UP students provide child care for frontline health care workers

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(Getty Images)

With clinical rotations canceled and OHSU classes going remote, life has been disrupted for medical students as much as anyone else impacted by the COVID-19 precautions. Even as the shock of changed plans settled on the MD student community last week, students sprang into action in service of others.

For Chris Graulty, Emily Lane and Audrey Tran all third-year MD students sitting on the sidelines wasn’t good enough. They stepped in to serve where they saw see a need: providing child care to the families of front-line medical providers after the state closed schools last week.

“If we couldn’t be directly involved with caring for patients, we wanted to support the physicians, nurses and medical personnel responding to the COVID-19 crisis,” said Audrey Tran.

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(Left to right) Third-year MD students at OHSU School of Medicine Chris Graulty, Emily Lane and Audrey Tran have been providing child care to the families of front-line medical providers after the state closed schools last week. (OHSU)

Using the tools available to them--email, text and Twitter--Graulty, Lane and Tran implored fellow students to volunteer along with them. Their efforts have been met with a strong positive response.

More than 300 OHSU M.D., P.A., nursing and dentistry students and University of Portland nursing students have stepped forward. Of those, 50 students have so far been matched with providers and are helping parents meet their childcare needs so they can return to work.

Graulty was on a rotation in the pediatric emergency room at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital last week and became concerned when he saw the shock and anxiety that providers who are parents experienced when they heard that schools were closing: how would they continue to care for patients if their kids weren’t in school?

Together, Graulty, Lane and Tran hatched their plan. Now they are spending their days fielding field calls, matching volunteers and, when they can, providing gas money to students from community donations they have received.

Amy Garcia, M.D., assistant dean of student affairs for Undergraduate Medical Education, says she was “not surprised that in this time of uncertainty and worry that OUR students would step forward and look for ways to volunteer their time and skills to our community. They truly exemplify the meaning of doctor within our community: those that care for the ill and in need by any means they can offer.”

Other students have answered the Oregon Medical Association’s call for medical students and faculty volunteers to aid with efforts that are ramping up across the state.

Students also are reaching out to support one another. Even amid social distancing directives and uncertainty, M.D. students are staying connected and trying to keep their sense of humor. In a recent communication to her graduating class, fourth-year student Hannah Dischinger shared resources she has found helpful from counseling wellness to a Quarantine Spotify playlist.

“The last 10 days have felt like they were a full year to me,” she wrote on the class listserv, “and I know I’m not alone in this. COVID-19 is a surprising, strange, scary phenomenon to experience as a medical student… (I) just wanted to reach out to our class and try to make us feel more connected.”

Health care workers can access services by calling: 503-383-9776


Franny White
Senior Media Relations Specialist