UConn medical students reach out to isolated seniors

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University of Connecticut medical students have made over 2,500 phone calls to check up on high risk patients and isolated seniors. (Photo courtesy of Pexels)

Starting last year, in an effort to reach out and support community members during the pandemic, University of Connecticut medical students have made over 2,500 phone calls to check up on high risk patients and isolated seniors, according to a UConn Today article. 

The initiative was developed by the Connecticut Area Health Education Center Network at UConn Health as a part of a COVID-19 Self Quarantine Surveillance Capacity Program, according to UConn Today. 

Candice Quarella, an eighth semester medical student at UConn’s School of Medicine, said that when the pandemic hit last year many third and fourth year medical students were pulled from their clinical training rotations. 

“I was supposed to start my internal medicine training, but had to stay home until June. We all wanted to do something to help. We were trying to train to be future doctors but there was nothing we could do just yet in person,” Quarella said. 

Petra Clark-Dunfer, associate director of CT AHEC said that UConn and CT AHEC have been engaging with community members and partners during the pandemic. 

“The tele-surveillance projects have been critical to add support to patients and community members in need during these unprecedented COVID times. It has been operating since April 2020 and continues today with our amazing interprofessional UConn Health/AHEC Urban Health Scholars calling these patients to check in on how they are feeling and dealing with COVID symptoms and needs. Also, they update the patient’s primary care physician regarding any concerns,” Dunfer said. 

“It was nice to be connected to patients to prevent them from falling through the cracks. I hope the patients we called felt more connected to care and our whole team at UConn Health trying to meet their needs, especially during an unpredictable time of such isolation. I hope they felt a strong connection to UConn and our commitment to them.” 

Medical students would reach out to patients and follow up with any symptoms they had, or if they were suffering from worsening symptoms, the article noted. 

“It was nice to be connected to patients to prevent them from falling through the cracks. I hope the patients we called felt more connected to care and our whole team at UConn Health trying to meet their needs, especially during an unpredictable time of such isolation. I hope they felt a strong connection to UConn and our commitment to them.” 

Students also made more than 500 calls to high risk seniors through the Geriatric Surveillance Project with Hartford’s South End Wellness Senior Center, according to UConn Today. Furthermore, they made about 800 calls for the Friendly Visitor Calling Project with Health360 across Waterbury and Torrington. 

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