PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — More than a month into the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown University medical students have banded together to help Rhode Islanders and the medical community navigate the public health crisis.
Kira Bromwich, 27, is a third-year medical student at Brown. She along with more than 150 third- and fourth-year medical students were taken out of their medical rotations last month because of the pandemic.
That’s when she and many other students worked together to find ways they could help the medical community.
Because they don’t have their medical licenses, they’ve been doing work that doesn’t involve direct patient contact.
“There’s a big initiative to gather personal protective equipment. That’s something we’ve really been working on,” said Bromwich.
Because of the statewide and nationwide shortage of PPE, the students started the Twitter account @GetUsPPE_RI.
People who go to the page can be connected to a form where they can donate anything from PPE, sanitizing products and even lab supplies.
“We have an entire student group directed solely to PPE both in terms of gathering donations, reaching out to tattoo parlors, nail salons, construction companies, all these various businesses that have PPE for their own purposes and may be able to spare some,” said Bromwich.
Bromwich said she and the other students are also trying to make a difference by working with Lifespan and the Department of Health to staff their COVID-19 hotline and provide resources for callers with questions about the pandemic.
Another group of students is working on contact tracing, which means finding out who people diagnosed with COVID-19 have been in contact with and tracking them down to see if they’ve had symptoms.
“We’ve had a lot of calls from the community. That may be someone who’s worried that they’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive, that may be somebody who has something they want to donate or supplies they want to donate,” said Bromwich.
She said being a part of this group of students has given her purpose in a time of great confusion and uncertainty for many people.
“The pandemic is touching providers and patients in every specialty,” said Bromwich, who plans to go into obstetrics and gynecology. “It’s really bringing people from all different fields of medicine together.”
“I see a lot that’s inspiring. I see a lot in the Rhode Island community that’s inspiring both among the community itself and among providers. I personally feel really lucky to a part of that,” she said.
Though Bromwich is young and said she has no underlying conditions, she admitted that the fact this pandemic is only going to get worse is a scary reality to face.
“We see various parts of the country — New York City, the state of Washington — who are dealing with this on a much greater level than we are at in this point in time. And it’s nerve-wracking to think of what’s ahead,” said Bromwich.
Like the governor and many other health professionals, she said the best way people can contribute is simply by staying home and protecting yourself from the virus.
“I understand feeling young and feeling invincible in that sense but it’s our responsibility to stay home both for ourselves, for people we love, for people we don’t even know,” said Bromwich. “There’s really no greater contribution to this community and to this country as we fight this pandemic.”
If you have supplies you would like to donate, you can go to the website here.