Nursing students from Langley’s Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) campus have teamed up with universities across the Lower Mainland to do their part in the fight against COVID-19.
Surrey residents Rachele Salikin, 36, and Sadaf Fahim, 21, have collaborated with nursing students from University of British Columbia, British Columbia Institute of Technology and Douglas College to spearhead a “B.C. nursing students COVID response team.”
The initiative aims to match volunteer nursing students with health care workers who may need a helping hand during the pandemic.
“One of the reasons that we both got involved was because we just felt like there was… so much we could do to support the health care community at this time, but we felt so limited especially because we were taken out of clinical,” said Fahim, a graduate of R.E. Mountain Secondary.
KPU nursing students were pulled out of clinical studies four weeks early due to COVID-19 and the initiative started to take shape a week or two later, Salikin explained.
“I’m a parent myself,” she said. “So I know what a challenge [childcare has] been and I couldn’t imagine trying to work, you know, 40 or 60 hours a week, including night shift, and not having childcare available as well. So it was just something easy that we could do that would just help everybody else who’s having to work so much harder than usual,”
So how did it all take shape?
Students from the different nursing schools that signed on to form the response team contacted their respective school programs and asked them to reach out to their contacts within the health authorities.
“It was just kind of to try and broaden our reach and make sure that we were reaching as many health care providers as possible,” Salikin explained.
“So basically, once they got this email, they would just click this link and it would take them to a Google form, and they would fill in their information… and what kind of help they were looking for,” she added.
Help can include childcare, grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions or para-clinical work.
Depending on the needs listed a volunteer from a Lower Mainland nursing school is then matched with a health care worker.
Since launching the group has received about 95 requests and has completed about 45 matches.
“We have 140 volunteers from the Lower Mainland, specifically,” said Fahim. “So these are volunteer nursing students, most of them are still in school right now or they’re finishing off their semester just getting ready for the next semester.”
In addition to the student volunteers from the four organizing universities, students from Langara College and Trinity Western University have also signed up to offer their time. Most recently the team of nursing students has reached out to the University of the Fraser Valley and have started a smaller volunteer group in Kelowna.
Health care workers who would like to request assistance can fill out a form by visiting forms.gle/QWJD8JXVeaDyTJrY9, or to request a volunteer for para-clinical work visit forms.gle/aVdz2xes2HD5cHhz5.
KPU suspended in-person instruction on March 16 and on March 24 announced summer classes, which begin May 11, will be delivered remotely.
There is no word yet how the fall semester will look, but Salikin and Fahim will be entering their fourth and final year of the KPU nursing program in September.