CovidSitters Episode 2 | Transcript
Brandon: Oh it's recording okay oh we're here I'm Brandon Garcia one of your host today this is the Resonance podcast. We're doing a very special episode of CovidSitters, and along with me I have:
Anoosha: Hi guys my name is Anoosha, I'm a third-year medical student at Baylor and I'm going to be the co-host for this episode.
Leia: Hi I'm Leia Tarbox, I am a second year PA student at Baylor College of Medicine.
Hannah: Hi my name is Hannah Mayer I'm also a third-year medical student at Baylor, and I am a COVID sitter.
Katie: Hey guys I'm Katie Naegar I'm a second year here at Baylor and I am helping out with the CovidTutors.
Sophie: Hi guys! I'm Sophie. I'm a third-year medical student at Baylor College of Medicine. I'm the founder for the e-Cards for Seniors program as part of uh HTX CovidSitters.
Brandon: And I am extremely excited to be talking to you guys about CovidSitters. We had an earlier episode with Anoosha, and that went super great with her, and Madhushree and Aanchal. They were awesome, so I'm super excited to hear what you guys had to say right now.
Anoosha: Yeah that's awesome, so let's kind of get started. Leia would you mind sharing with us like what is HTX CovidSitters?
Leia: Yes so you've already heard from Aanchal and Madhushree with the previous podcast but CovidSitters is students that are supporting health care workers during this COVID-19 pandemic. So it started out small, and now has gotten to this wonderful big volunteer group of almost 150 volunteers helping 40 health care families. So we're trying to support Houston by helping manage their households and offering tutoring services and child care services. So we know that schools have closed and there's been increased work demands on health care workers and with social distancing has been tough to find childcare and just health household management for our providers.
Anoosha: That's awesome Leia. And can you tell us, what's your role specifically?
Leia: So I'm part of the exec board that reaches out to students and helps manage and connect health care providers with students. And like it was said, I'm a PA student so I’m able to kind of reach interdisciplinary-wise in Baylor College of Medicine
Brandon: Wow how quickly were you guys able to get up and running and helping these people?
Leia: it was actually pretty quick. I was very impressed. It came as a brainchild from some of our wonderful med students, and with help from a program up north we were able to have a good blueprint for getting it started down here. So there was a similar program in the Twin Cities, and they had a meeting with us and gave us all of their work that they had already done including a Google Form that students and healthcare providers could fill out that helps us to match students and healthcare providers.
Anoosha: That's awesome Leia! So we know that the program started as kind of household help and dog sitting dog walking, household management type services, but we have expanded over time can you talk about some of the other services that we offer too?
Leia: Yeah absolutely and I know some of the other people in this podcast will do a better job talking about it! Yeah like you said, we did dog walking errands and grocery shopping on top of childcare but it is now expanded to tutoring services as well as providing e-cards for seniors who are trapped in their nursing homes and don't really have family that are able to come visit.
Anoosha: That's really great I'm hoping we can hear from one of the volunteers
themselves to talk about their experiences. Hannah are you are you with us can you talk about what it's like to be a CovidSitters volunteer?
Hannah: Hi sure I think that being a COVID Sitter for me definitely started with when we did get pulled out of clinics you know all of us are one of the want to be helping people and right when the state home order hit, my half uncle had actually been really struggling because he's a four year old and he and his wife were having to work from home and he was just talking to me about how hard it was to work for home with a four year old, and so then the CovidSitters, you know, I saw post online about it and I signed up because I thought that, you know, I just know why and I you can tell how helpful it can really be to households and so for me he that looks like in Houston I've been hired with a family and I am in a pod with four other volunteers and we take care of a two-year-old together which is super fun. He is a jewel way to hang out with and definitely keeps us on our toes. And it really allows both of his parents who are physicians to do their daily activities whether that's go to clinic or you know do research or see patients whatever it is it allows them to do that knowing that you know their son is at home hanging out and someone that's not them is watching.
Brandon: Yeah I was gonna ask that are you guys actually physically go into people's homes in providing this care or is there some way of doing it like contactless how does that look?
Hannah: I mean unfortunately kids are you can't really be contactless. They definitely need supervision in a place that's safe for them. And a lot of times too with these kids, you know their schedule has been incredibly disruptive. And we know that kids can thrive having a schedule they get to follow every day, knowing what to expect, and so for kids this is just as challenging of a time as it is for their parent counterparts. So I believe the majority of situations, the student volunteers are going to houses and doing childcare within that house. And that's I think one of the thoughts behind having these pods where you know it's the same students just going to this one house our household, so that we're not kind of exposing extra people to you know new environments and stuff like that.
Brandon: Yeah how do you guys are sure that you're not like passing along the virus or anything like that? You said you go to the same house repeatedly are there any like guidelines you guys follow outside of that to make sure that you stay safe particularly? What do you all do there?
Hannah: I wouldn't say that there is any kind of overarching you know thought process besides just use your common sense. So that means that you should be doing all the social distancing measures that everyone else is taking when you're not at your CovidSitters house that means washing your hands when you get there, when you leave. That means you know wearing a mask if you leave the house, and it means that you're just you have to be extra thoughtful because you know that not only your actions impact yourself, but they're going to impact the family that you're also taking care of.
Brandon: Yeah I imagine that that kind of has to weigh on you a little bit. And I reason I asked, I have a three-year-old myself, and I would love in fact I do love any moment that he gets to spend talking to his grandma or his Grammy and those moments are very precious. I just want to let you know like from a parent's standpoint like this what you guys are doing is absolutely amazing. And I can't imagine the amount of sacrifice and time it takes for you guys on like an emotional level to stay safe for yourself and for these families and to that take the time out of your day. Because I am sure that your lives even though you're out of clinic has not really slowed down because you're still preparing to become a physician.
Hannah: Thanks I mean I think one of the really fun things about this is that you do kind of see that impact. For instance, the family that I was working with, our kid’s main babysitter was his grandma before this kind of all started, but you know she's older she had other health problems and you know that's a situation where the parents were concerned that since they were still a little more active as essential workers they were really nervous that she was going to get sick. And so in that way, I think CovidSitters was really able to help this particular family kind of bridge the gap and get to a place where they could keep everyone in their family kind of as safe as possible.
Brandon: Awesome and like how long at a time are you guys there? Are you there the whole day or just for a couple hours?
Hannah: You know the twos are really a fun time because kids are really pushing boundaries, so that's just a whole other time to really be focused on them. But it does mean that we really did two shifts a day most of the time and they would need childcare anywhere from probably
six to eight or nine hours. And so I normally went for either three and a half two and a half three and a half or four and a half hours I like going in the mornings because that's just what I like to do. And then there was always an afternoon shift, and normally you know he would take a nap at some point in the afternoon and we were just kind of be there to tide over between when his parents were doing the online the telemedicine or you know having to go to clinic for the afternoon. We would just be there for continuity.
Brandon: I think this is this is really cool did you guys run into any problems we initially set out, and maybe you don't answer this or maybe someone else can but was there any concerns with like child care and things like that? Because I know like teachers and daycares and things like that they have some rules and regulations that to make sure they follow in terms of child care. Was that ever a concern or is that something that the organization is gonna have to worry about in the future as this continues? That was just something that popped in my mind.
Leia: I can answer that if you want.
Brandon: Oh yeah yeah.
Leia: So there's this is Leia by the way. There's always going to be complications like that, I mean we all work in health care so we know not everything is black and white. The wonderful thing is that because people work in health care or because you've been students and you know that things can mess up everyone has been really flexible and understanding. It was nice because all of us are in a graduate program, and so we've had background checks we've had our BLS cards and we are more comfortable with caring for children if they were to get hurt as well too. So although things aren't perfect, those were nice added bonuses to being students for the safety aspect there. And then yeah, as well as the pods, it was difficult because some parents were concerned about having pods of students, but being able to do pods helped our students not get burnt out and also helped us keep our students safe. We did try to pair roommates together for the same household. So on top of keeping the same people going the same house every day, it was also people that live in the same home traveling to the same home. So while everything wasn't perfect, we did our best to make sure everything was safe for everyone involved, but also not too time-consuming.
Brandon: Wow that's actually really smart. I didn't think about that. That's a good move on y'all's part to minimize the exposure there.
Anoosha: Yeah and Leia while have you, where do you guys see the rest of CovidSitters going? Do you guys have like a timeline of that?
Leia: Good question. I don't think anyone knows the timeline of COVID-19 as a disease. I think that we will have to continue to be flexible with how this moves forward. A lot of us students are actually starting back on clinicals May 26, myself included. So that makes it difficult too, and we won't have volunteers anymore. The positive thing is that a lot of our first-year medical students and PA students volunteers. Some of them are doing online classes, so things are being done through video. And that might help us, as well as some amazing undergraduate students and people from other programs around the city who have been volunteering to help. So again, not entirely sure what this looks like moving forward, but we do have some good support and some excited people in our community - not just grad students from BCM.
Anoosha: That is so cool well Hannah and Leia thank you guys so much for all of that kind of insight. I feel like we all have a much better understanding of what it's like to be a volunteer and kind of what it was like to kind of sift through the challenges and work through that too from the sort of administrative side.
Leia: Yeah absolutely thanks for having us!
Anoosha: For sure! Hey Brandon would you like to hear about the CovidTutors program?
Brandon: Would I like to hear about the CovidTutors program? Absolutely!
Anoosha: That's awesome! So hey maybe I'll jump in myself and kind of talk about this one. So we heard from Hannah, Leia, Madhushree, and Aanchal already, those were some of the people who are really instrumental in getting CovidSitters kind of up and running. Early March, when I saw their posts, I kind of got thinking because something I was involved with in college was tutoring or mentoring high school kid. And I was just kind of thinking during this time, kids like Hannah mentioned their schedules are getting disrupted they're not able to go to school having to transition to online curriculum, not to mention all the work that the teachers are suddenly very quickly and rapidly transition everything online so have them thought what if we kind of partnered with CovidSitters to add a little branch that we call CovidTutors. So what CovidTutors is a virtual tutoring service that is a socially distancing approved way to tutoring K through 12 students. And so basically we have a very similar volunteer pool to the CovidSitters to begin with but students can specifically sign up for tutoring anything from kind of grade school social studies and ESL courses all the way to AP physics and calculus. So we have like a we have a wide breadth of really awesome volunteers that are all grad students so a lot of them have taken sort of the entire range of grade school classes, and so everyone was quite happy to help with that as well.
Brandon: I think this is awesome. I actually have a cousin who's a freshman in high school who basically, as her mother put it, they went on spring break and then never came back and it's been tremendously hard. I think this is awesome but, how did you guys like get the ball rolling there? Where did you find students to teach, how does that look?
Anoosha: Yeah, for sure, so our recruitment process for volunteers was kind of similar to how we recruited volunteers for CovidSitters. We kind of advertised through our own group Facebook pages, Leia and other people helped us reach out to PA students, nursing students, dental students, grad students at Rice University, to kind of gain that interest. And man those sign ups, like they filled up quick. We have so many volunteers. We have more volunteers than we have placed. Which is incredible.
Brandon: So what you're saying is you really would like some more people to tutor.
Anoosha: Yeah, I think so. What we did to recruit students...now this is difficult because we have students who tutor, and the students who are tutored.
Brandon: So the tutored and the tutors.
Anoosha: yeah, that's a good way to put it.
Brandon: The tutorees.
Anoosha: The tutorees. We also went about recruiting by sending out emails to listservs just for as far as we could really. Whether that was our own kind of physician leadership that we'd come in contact with through our clinical rotations or just, you know, other contexts that we've made whether nursing or administrative and just ask them to send the email far and wide because our goal was to just try to try to reach as many kiddos as we could to be able to tutor. So that's how we kind of did the recruitment.
Brandon: And how many students or tutorees are you tutoring each week now?
Anoosha: Ooh that's a good question. I don't know if I have a good number for you. I'd have to go back and check about that.
Brandon: Oh that's okay. I was just wondering if you could give me, like a ballpark. Is it two to three people per week? Or 500?
Anoosha: Not 500 per week. I would say we probably do maybe like 10-15 sessions a week.
Brandon: Oh wow.
Anoosha: And it's a similar process and we'll get to hear from one of our awesome tutors soon as well, Katie. But it's a similar process where we have a couple of students, maybe two or three that are assigned to a particular family just to be able to switch off. And sometimes, you know, if a tutoree or the tutored kids want, you know, help with French and math, then maybe we have a grad student who, you know, took French and is comfortable tutoring that and another one who is, you know, is like up to date with their geometry and is more, kind of, happy to help with that. So we try to pair the interests with, kind of like, the expertise of the volunteers.
Brandon: That’s awesome. Have you guys reached out, maybe, to the school systems around or anything like that to see if they had students that they knew would need help?
Anoosha: Yeah, so that is something we had tried to do with, kind of, limited success. We’re still kind of working on figuring out the right channels of who to reach out to within a school system or a school district just to get through that kind of avenue as well. We know finals are kind of coming up so we imagine there could be students that could maybe desire some tutoring.
Brandon: Oh absolutely. And is it just K through 12, or have you guys branched out to any, like, college students or anything?
Anoosha: Yeah, right now we kind of focused in on K through 12 because that was something that we knew we would be able to, you know, most of our grad student volunteers would be able to help with most of the subjects of K through 12 as opposed to maybe some of the more specific courses in college, but it's definitely an avenue that we could pursue if we find a need.
Brandon: Yeah, I was just wondering. I love this concept of tutoring because there's just, especially, when you're forced to go online like this it just doesn't work for some people. Um I've spent a lot of time in the last six months trying to figure out how I learn and I'm definitely one of those people that just can't sit and read, which is what a lot of these things happen with online. So I think the fact that you guys are coming in tutoring and stuff like that I think that's a wonderful opportunity to help people continue to learn. Are these sessions online like how are y'all coordinating the actual, like, tutoring sessions themselves?
Anoosha: Yeah that's awesome, and I think I'm going to punt this question over to our awesome volunteer tutor, Katie.
Katie: Yeah so hey guys. Most of the sessions that we host are our online sessions and each of them look a little different because each day in the life of an online student I'm sure is a little different. So kind of similar to the way that CovidSitters is set up there's about two or three of us in a group that are serving one student that is a need of tutoring, and we get to go back and teach ourselves in ninth grade for our tutoring. So we have a couple different subjects. We have physics, we have algebra, we have some Spanish, some SAT vocab, all the good stuff from ninth grade that we get to go over and I probably tutor about two or three days a week for about an hour or two. And it's been a ton of fun. I just start off by asking, you know, like what classes did you have today? What did you learn at school today? How long did you go to school today? What work do you have? What can we go over? And it's provided a very intimate look at how different these students lives are now that they've moved online, and how different their education is, and how different the resources that I have to teach themselves this material and to learn this material really look like. And I know personally I've gotten a lot of gratitude both from my student and from my family of how helpful this tutoring has really been, and how necessary it's been for them, and how difficult the transition was so it's been really great, to kind of get to see that up close and to be a part of that and you know to get a refresher on SAT vocab is never a bad thing.
Brandon: Amen to that. Yeah, well, I'm just going to say if you're as half a good of a SAT tutor as you were, as like, an Anatomy Pinky Pinner, these kids are in really good hands.
Katie: Aw, thank you.
Brandon: Yeah shout-out to you and all the other former pinky pinners for helping out us all through Anatomy.
Katie: I would say I was really lucky that this existed because teaching is something that I am very passionate about, that I really love and enjoy. So this really doesn't seem like I'm sacrificing a moment of my time to do this, it just is another opportunity for me to get to do something really cool and something I really enjoy. I don't even think I saw it for a second when I saw Anoosha’s post about volunteers, I think I just immediately signed up and then bombarded her with questions on how I can help and what we can do too to get this project up and going because I just thought it was awesome. I thought it was such a cool idea and it's very clear from the people I've interacted with just how impactful it really can be to some of these students lives just to have someone walk through this transition with them and spend an hour or two a day going over some vocab words.
Brandon: And that's, that is amazing. That honestly warms my heart as someone who has struggled with school in the past. Who's also been a tutor in the past, to know that there's people like you and Hannah and all the other volunteers who have this heart and compassion towards people. I think that's something, I think, maybe we could all agree is like at the heart of medicine and caring for people. So really, thank you for sharing those insights.
Katie: Yeah, of course. I'm happy I get to do it.
Anoosha: Yeah, that was awesome, Katie. Thank you so much. Do you have any other, kind of, thoughts you want to share or any favorite memories from tutoring you want to share?
Katie: Oh, I think I definitely have a favorite memory. A few weeks into tutoring my student and I always, like kind of, started off you know he had to, like, figure out how to interact with me. He was always a little shy. Kind of had to pull some teeth to get some answers out of him and then probably a week or two in, you could just tell he started to get more and more comfortable, and we got to joke around a little bit more. We had to mix up some tutors, some people's schedules didn't work out and so we added some new tutors and I was explaining to him that another one of my friends was going to get to tutor him the next day and he just looked at me and he's like, “Oh I want you to tutor, like I want to see you tomorrow”. And it was just, like, the most heartwarming moment to see that like personally you can influence someone's life that way. I thought was just like all the justification you need.
Anoosha: That is super heartwarming.
Katie: And of course he loves the other two tutors too. He came back the next day and he was like, “they were awesome!” It was just a really cool moment.
Anoosha: That’s great, Katie. Well hey, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your really thoughtful and heartwarming insights about all this. Brandon, do you want to talk to Sophie about the e-cards program?
Brandon: Do I? Hey Sophie! Tell me about the e-cards program.
Sophie: Yeah, sure! Um so, the e-Cards for Seniors program actually came about because I was working on a research project about how older adults in our community were adapting to the pandemic. And, at the time, CovidSitters was already doing so much to help the community with household and the tutoring program, but I felt like we were neglecting a huge part of the older adult population, especially those like Leia mentioned who are in nursing homes, and they were no longer allowed to have visitors. So, we wanted older adults to know that we were still thinking about them during this time, so um I reached out to Madhushree and Aanchal, and we came up with the e-Cards for Seniors program as a safe way to bring older adults some joy and hope um during this time. Um so our volunteers um what would happen is they get like a PowerPoint template from us, and they can do like a personalized message for the resident. They can include some Sudoku or crossword puzzles on the card. Um some people included like a self-care bingo that the older adults can do throughout the week. Um some people have also included like their own artwork in the card. And so once they finish making the card, they usually send it back to me as a PDF. And then every Friday, I send a batch of cards um as an email to the nursing home coordinator, and then they print it out and distribute it to their residents.
Brandon: Wow. So what's uh, what's been the feedback so far from people that have received these cards?
Sophie: Yeah so, so far uh we’ve had pretty good feedback from the nursing home coordinators. Um they say that our cards are really cute and that the older adults have really enjoyed getting cards. I feel like when you're um an elderly, and you get mail, like they always get super excited, and it's wonderful to hear how just like one card can really brighten their entire day. And so, I think that really warms my heart knowing that even one card can make a big impact um to someone during this time. Um and so far, we've delivered over 300 cards, and I think um next Friday will probably be the last batch of cards that we'll be sending um since we have to restart clinic on May 26, but um so far uh our recipients have included residents from St. Dominic Village, Colonial Oaks on Braeswood, um residents from Bayou Manor, and Holly Hall.
Anoosha: That's awesome! So, it's really like kind of a local thing too, like really kind of um sending the cards to places where we see everyday, and uh I wonder and I hope that you know people will kind of notice them more from now on after, now that they've heard the names and kind of understand that who the people are and kind of have a relationship with.
Sophie: Yeah, yeah. I think we definitely started out local cause actually initially like our initial idea was to actually hand-deliver the cards, which is why we looked for nursing homes or senior centers within uh like the TMC area. But then, when I was discussing it with Madhushree and Aanchal, they said that a couple you know like um the virus can be left on cards for x number of days, like we don't really know what their protocol is. And I think just for you know um safety measures, we that's why we decided to transition into like the e-Cards thing, but we still uh decided to send it to the nursing homes that we had already like reached out to.
Brandon: Okay, um do you guys, is it just one e-Card that you send to a resident, or has there been any kind of like dog-dialogue or more of a longish term relationship develop with any residents?
Sophie: Yeah so, funny you mention that because (laughter), so e-Cards for seniors had like a some multiple versions, but like uh one of the things that we had initially talked about was actually doing FaceTime with the residents. Um that was our initial idea, but we ran into logistical issues because not every senior had like a phone or a capability to do FaceTime overtime, and um that a lot of the older adults were also getting a lot of scam calls, so it wasn't safe for them to do that. Um, but we did want to do like FaceTime as like a continuous thing, uh but with e-Cards like so far right now, we've only been able to send like one card to every senior. It hasn't been really like a back and forth thing because the resident hasn't really seen who we are, and I think it’s hard to establish that sort of connection and trust when you haven't actually met the person. Uh, but I think for me, what I would like to see come out of this program is like hopefully when Covid is over, we can transition this to something like an “Adopt-a-Grandparent” kind of deal where our volunteers can send an e-card to the resident that they were paired with every month. So then, they would be able to establish a more long-term relationship um and then hopeful-hopefully keep this going on even when Covid is over.
Brandon: Yeah, that would be awesome, and I think we're gonna want to talk a little bit more about that with everyone in here in just a moment um, but tell me a little bit more about what the volunteers do, how do they help um get this word out to the seniors who are in need?
Sophie: Mhm, so um maybe I- I'm usually the one in charge of reaching out to the senior home coordinator um, so all of the information is more centralized, but if anybody had like knows of a place that they want to you know help or send cards to, then they can just um let me know um and then I'll reach out to see how many residents they have at the center. Um and then when our volunteers sign up, they say how many cards they're able to make, and then I pair them with the number of residents that they can make cards for. So, our volunteers I guess they don't really have to do any of like the logistical stuff. I think it takes a lot of time already to make a very personalized card, and I think our volunteers put in a lot of time and effort to make it really great for the seniors, so I try to take up more of the boring logistical tasks in terms of like reaching out and coordinating, and our volunteers is mainly just like the creative side of the card.
Brandon: When you say personalized, what do you mean? Like do they actually get to know a little bit more about these residents and find stuff that's more meaningful to them? Like what goes into those cards?
Sophie: So some senior centers um, they were able to give me like the first name of the resident. Some people were um didn't want to share that information, so for the ones that did share like the first name of the resident, then the card would be specifically addressed to that resident. And in the card, we would kind of talk about ourselves you know sharing that um you know we're a medical student, we're thinking about them, some of our own hobbies like what are we doing during the quarantine...Some people have said that you know they've been really enjoying spending time with their cats, and they've included personal photos of their cats you know. So not really I guess knowing what the residents are doing at this time, but sharing with them like what we're doing during this time um kind of how we're dealing with the pandemic and even though it's a hard time that we're still thinking about them and that we hope that this card with the games and photos that we provide can bring some happiness like during this time for them as well.
Anoosha: That seems like a really neat way to you know make sure that we're respecting privacy but also kind of giving a little bit of a personal real touch from our end too. That's great Sophie.
Brandon: Yeah, I think that's really cool. I mean cause it would be I mean theoretically it'd be super easy for someone to make just a generic card and then send that out to everybody, but the fact that you put a personal touch to it and you have volunteers that take the time to let these people into their lives even if they don't maybe aren't there maybe they're not able to learn everything about the person they're connecting with, I think that that speaks volumes to the humanity aspect of it - the fact that like you said that you know we're real students, real people who actually have a real care for other people.
Sophie: Yeah uh.
Brandon: Yeah, and I think that's an awesome way to do it.
Sophie: Yeah, you’re totally right! And I think um like some of the coordinators have even told me that you know after all of this is over like we would love if your volunteers could come over and play pi-bingo or do arts and crafts with our residents and maybe even meet you know meet your resident in person. And I thought that that was such a nice gesture because I think it really kind of like you mentioned, it kind of closes the loop and offers that sort of continuity with our program. So, I think um I would really encourage my volunteers who've made cards when all of this is over, it would be nice for us to go to um the senior center and the nursing home and do a little something for them in person.
Brandon: Yeah, that would be amazing.
Anoosha: Well, Brandon it sounds like we've heard from a lot of really great, kind of, student-bred outreach organizations today and some great volunteers who had some awesome stories to share as well.
Brandon: Yeah this has been awesome. I'm really grateful that you were able to reach out and bring these people in the podcast because I cannot stress this enough that this is absolutely amazing. I mean honestly you could have all, could have just gone home, sat around, playing Animal Crossing and just kind of waited this out, but instead you found ways to help and reach out to the community. And I think that speaks to the to the integrity and caliber of students in the healthcare professions. I know we asked Katie this question about what was your favorite part of this whole process, but I want to, kind of, open that up to everyone. I kind of want to hear more about what has been the most amazing part of this or what you learned.
Hannah: Hi it's Hannah. I can share one of my most memorable moments from the CovidSitters. So obviously there are a couple of us that are in the same pod and one of my favorite things to do everyday would always be to ask the two-year-old that I was babysitting, “Who are you excited to see this afternoon? Who do you think is coming?” And he, I mean, he's two, but at the end of the day he actually knew all of our names. He would ask who's coming next. He would ask, you know, do I get to see my friends you know “so-and-so” today. And one of the funniest moments was when he kept asking when he was gonna see “Puff” and I was like okay he's two, is “puff” the name of his dragon or like the name of, like, one of his toys? I was really confused and it turns out his mom was telling me that he had renamed one of the CovidSitters that would come and see him, “Puff” because they had such a good time together. And so I just always thought that was so hilarious the sitter's name had nothing, wasn't even close to Puff, but it was just sweet that, you know, even after only, yeah this was pretty early on in our time there, he would get excited really to hear about who was coming next and which one of his friends was gonna come. And for someone, you know, when I first showed up on the first day he was like not interested in why I was there or who I was, and by the end it was just comforting to see that maybe we had brought like a little bit of normalcy back into his life. So that was probably one of my favorite memories.
Anoosha: That’s awesome, Hannah. That’s a really cute one.
Brandon: Absolutely. On that note, can anyone talk about the role that the faculty at Baylor has had in supporting this? I mean, we’ve all seen emails from different faculty members about this, but how has Baylor been able to help facilitate this initiative.
Anoosha: That’s a great question. Yeah, we’ve had some really good support from our Student Affairs deans who, kind of, were with us every step of the process to get the program approved through the appropriate channels whether that be, kind of, you know, making sure we have legal considerations figured out or, you know, even getting the word out themselves to their faculty and staff in their departments. So they’ve been really instrumental in, kind of, making these programs possible. Definitely. And faculty themselves have been quite supportive.
Katie: Yeah, I helped Anoosha a little bit reaching out to some doctors that I knew in the community or at different hospitals to just try to help spread the word. And every single time I was met with a really enthusiastic like, “Yeah! Can I share this on a Facebook page of every female physician in Houston?” Like, “Yeah, can I share this with all of the TCH departments?” Like, everyone was so, like, appreciative and so onboard and so supportive. I even had one residency director offer to provide pay for a couple of sessions for all her residents and a gift for them working during this time. And then she came back and she was like, “Oh my God, I just realized this is all volunteer-based.”
Brandon: That’s really cool. The reason I ask is one of the groups that we plan, we hope to catch with this podcast are people who are considering Baylor for medical school, graduate school, or any other of the healthcare professions. And I think this is just an amazing opportunity to show 1) just how awesome students are here, and 2) how awesome faculty are with backing us up with this kind of thing. And you guys maybe can have a different opinion, or add a little bit to this, but I think it’s times like this that show why Baylor is such an awesome institution.
Anoosha: 100% agree. Just a huge shout out to all of our speakers who joined us today for the podcast. Leia, one of the executive board members of CovidSitters, Hannah, one CovidTutors of our awesome CovidSitters volunteers, Katie, one of our awesome CovidTutors volunteers, and Sophie, the founder of our ecards program. We really appreciate, like, having the chance to talk to you guys and hear a little bit more about, kind of, the personal side of things, and you know, what you’ve gotten out of it. And it really means a lot to be able to hear that from you guys and for you to share that with us. So thank you so much for joining.
Brandon: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, guys. I really appreciate y’all taking the time to come talk with us today and for sharing your amazing stories.
Leia: Thanks for having us!