A programme aimed at connecting students who are willing to help with host sites that need assistance.
A student volunteer programme run by the faculty of health sciences at Wits University is seeing a drop in numbers as contact classes resumed in the faculty on Wednesday, July 8.
The programme, which began in April this year, aims to assist clinical communities in Gauteng with their covid-19 responses by matching the student volunteers with clinics and hospitals like Charlotte Maxeke and Chris Hani Baragwanath in need of additional assistance.
Dr Richard Cooke, the programme coordinator, says the volunteers’ activities range from marshalling people in queues to screening patients, as well as assisting in trauma units and theatres.
According to the programme’s online registration portal, 698 students had registered for the programme up until June 25, to volunteer at 31 host sites across Gauteng. Cooke says this this number has decreased due to the resumption of contact classes which were suspended due to the pandemic in March. Cooke added that, “Some students have stepped away and now that things have settled a bit, in terms of understanding how the year will pan out, a few are going back (to volunteer).”
Wade Shaw, (33), a fourth-year medical student said, “I stopped volunteering a few weeks ago when we were given our contact session timetables, but before that, I was volunteering every Tuesday and Friday at Stretford Clinic in Orange Farm.” Charlize Dormehi, (23), a fourth-year medical student who has reduced her hours volunteering at Helen Joseph, said, “They (the hospital), are phasing out students in July and hoping to bring in community volunteers to work at the beginning of August.”
Cooke, head of the department of family medicine and clinical care at Wits, added, “While the long-term future and potential formalisation of the programme is still unclear, we believe it could be a viable and rewarding avenue for personal and professional development.”
Cooke said that the initial catalyst for the programme was the many expressions of interest in health science students volunteering in clinical spaces during covid-19.
FEATURED IMAGE: Wits Medical School, September, 26, 2018. PHOTO: File.
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