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Medical students volunteer as babysitters for front-line doctors and nurses

Social media post launches effort to aid health care providers

Social distancing. Virtual learning. Working from home. The response to the coronavirus pandemic has changed lives across The Ohio State University and the world.

For Morgan Amigo, a third-year medical student, it meant the suspension of clinical rotations for her and her peers. Faced with more time at home and understanding the growing challenge facing doctors and nurses, Amigo wanted to find a way to help and stay busy.

“I thought, what can I do to directly impact these providers and pay my respects and show them how much I care because I can’t be there on the front lines beside them anymore,” she said. “So I thought, what is a better idea than providing child care and pet care for them?”

So Amigo sent a tweet letting the Ohio State medical community know she was ready and willing to babysit for any doctors, nurses or health care professionals in need. Her message went viral.

“I have a very small Twitter account, about 70 followers at the time, and within hours, it was getting like after like. I was getting all kinds of responses from physicians and nurses and even people in the community who just saw my tweet,” she said. “So I reached out to some of my classmates and said, ‘Hey, this is something we can really set up as a service for physicians and nurses in the community.’”

Ellen Lubbers, also a third-year medical student, was one of Amigo’s classmates who stepped in to help. Initially, the students organized a spreadsheet to pair doctors and nurses with students living in the same location. The response quickly overwhelmed the spreadsheet.

Lubbers said they switched to web form where health care providers could input information: where they live, how old their children are and if they needed help with anything else. Now the medical center is using the Whyjuggle website to help balance demand.

So far, more than 100 people signed up to provide care for 91 requests for services. Students were able to match more than 50 families in less than 72 hours.

“It’s good to see that the medical students are stepping up to help in any way that we can,” Lubbers said.

Lubbers said they are following a one-student-per-family rule to limit exposure.

The volunteer students know they aren’t replacing parents or teachers. But they can make sure pets are cared for and exercised while nurses or doctors work long hours. They can make sure the children they are watching are engaged, active and entertained.

“I think it’s the goal for all of us to give these children kind of some semblance of a normal life while mom and dad are out on the front lines,” Amigo said. “The only way that I can describe it is that it’s a beautiful thing in this time of crisis and uncertainty.”

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