How the Columbia Student Services Corps Has Pivoted Its Efforts to Help Get PPE to Protestors to Prevent Spread of Covid-19
In February, a group of students at Columbia University Irving Medical Center wanted to combine their various avenues of study in order to help stop the spread of Covid-19. So, they quickly mobilized student leaders throughout various disciplines the dental school, the nursing school, the public health school, and the psychology school and they launched the Covid-19 Student Services Corps or CSSC.
The idea was to create a wide-ranging and multi-tiered service-learning model that would help with various issues that arose just after the pandemic landed in the U.S. These initiatives include mental health programs, a community food delivery arm called Hero Meals, as well as telemedicine. Students were and still are encouraged to submit their own proposals for new initiatives where they see more needs have arisen.
In addition, the CSSC created a program called Mask Check, which helped provide much-needed PPE to local shelters and jails in the New York area. Shayna Feuer, who is currently getting her masters degree in nursing, is helping to head up this arm of the CSSC. Through virtual sewing groups, Feuer and her team of around 14 students distribute the donated masks themselves, mainly to shelters and prisons in and around the Washington Heights area, where Columbia is located.
They also lead virtual sewing classes so that Columbia students can help make masks, in addition to the donated masks they receive. And while they were most recently focused on sewing masks that were permissible by the jails (there are strict rules about fabric, elastic ties, and colors for inmate masks), Feuer and the Mask Check team have since shifted focus.
On Monday, they focused their efforts on supporting the protestors advocating for systemic change in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by four Minneapolis police officers. “As allies and public health workers, we want to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and contribute to safe protesting,” Feuer says, adding:
“Mask Check has fully shifted our focus to collecting and donating PPE to the protestors.” Feuer says that she and her team realized there was a huge need for PPE for protestors in New York, as Covid-19 is still a very present and real threat especially in the black community, which it has affected disproportionately.
“Members of our team have attended protests nearly every day this week,” Feuer says. “We also thought that it was time for us to further step up and show Columbia’s dedication not only to this city but to the nation and the world.”
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Content courtesy of Vogue