A group of medical students from the University of New Mexico recently launched Corona Care NM, a website that helps connect New Mexico volunteers to local healthcare and hospital workers, and vice versa.
Volunteers can help healthcare workers with childcare needs, cooking, cleaning, pet sitting and more. They are able to fill out their experience in order to be best fitted with a particular job or duty, as well as preference for what type of work they are willing to do.
If healthcare workers need help with childcare, they are connected with three to five volunteers. Otherwise, they are connected with one volunteer.
The contact information for volunteers is given directly to the healthcare professional and the process is then in their hands.
“We are simply providing a service to connect healthcare workers with volunteers,” David Gangwish, founder of the site, said.
Gangwish said a strong focus of the site is to be ready for a time when hospitals become so overwhelmed that volunteers will be necessary. Even if healthcare workers do not need help right now, they can still apply early to have this help in the future.
“The goal of our website is to connect frontline healthcare workers with the help they need to continue to fight this pandemic,” Gangwish said. “Our goal is to connect people willing to donate their time to provide that support.”
This website has been up and running since March 23. Gangwish said it has gained over a hundred volunteers and helped over twenty healthcare workers so far.
Gangwish had help from UNM students Jay Martinez, Madeline Chavez and Clare Batty in creating the idea for the website. There are about ten volunteers that help run the site now, with a majority of them being upper-division UNM students. Undergraduate student Hyunju Blemel is one of the few younger students to assist in the site.
“We, as medical students, were looking for ways to help in the healthcare community during these times of high tension,” Gangwish said.
The students got the idea to start the website about two weeks ago. After a week of technical work, the website was up and running.
“From what we’re seeing in New York and other cities across the world, it seems like there is a very high likelihood that we’ll need a huge community and government response,” Gangwish said.
Gangwish recently got his doctorate of medicine with the University of New Mexico and plans to attend Beaumont Health to start his residency this summer.
He said he is unsure of when the pandemic will cease to exist but is certain that his residency will continue regardless.
“We have always needed doctors; we will continue to need doctors,” Gangwish said.
The website has been used mainly in Albuquerque so far but is open to any location in New Mexico.
“A majority of our health care system is in Albuquerque so I think that’s where the need will be the highest,” Gangwish said.
Gangwish said a majority of volunteers with Corona Care NM have been students currently but he hopes to spread the word further in the community.
“We’re continuing to have both a media and social media outreach so people are aware that if they want to help there is a way to get involved,” Gangwish said.
Megan Gleason is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @fabflutist2716