KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Waiting on the sidelines, unable to help, and eager to help is what fueled three Lincoln Memorial University, medical students to give back to frontline healthcare workers.
The students, entering their second year at the LMU DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, created Medical Students for COVID-19 Support Tennessee in April 2020 to raise funds to buy and donate Personal protective equipment.
Elizabeth Taylor, Priya Dharampuriya, and Amy Rousselot set a goal of $1,000 through an online fundraiser. It grew.
“I think it feels better than doing nothing. In the grand scheme of things, we’re not donating a ton, not enough to cover the need that’s there. It’s better than doing nothing,” said Taylor, speaking to WATE 6 On Your Side over Zoom.
Taylor, Dharampuriya, and Rousselot have done the work from their respective homes, meeting virtually for safety, to ensure their idea came to life without putting themselves, or the greater Knoxville community at-risk. They are students at the Knoxville LMU campus.
They received donations from fellow students, LMU faculty, and family members of other LMU students totaling, now, more than $9,000. That money, put directly back to PPE purchases for East Tennessee hospitals like Tennova Healthcare and Covenant Health Supply Chain.
In May, the Medical Students for COVID-19 Support Tennessee donated 1,300 surgical masks, 100 KN95 masks, and 75 face shields to the Covenant Health Supply Chain, according to an Instagram post.
Since the group was created in April, Taylor said they have donated more than 2,000 masks locally.
They’ve also delivered meals to Hamblen Primary Care in Morristown because of donations. Taylor says they partner with locally owned restaurants as “our way of pouring back into the Knox [East Tennessee] economy.”
The group has now expanded efforts to also providing meals for healthcare workers. Delivering multiple times a month as donations allow.
“I know it’s hard for people to understand when you’re not seeing people die in front of you all day long from this disease. But it’s still very real. People are still going to the hospital for it, people are still in critical condition. All of the precautions out there, take every one of them, you do not want to be sick in the hospital alone.”Elizabeth Taylor, LMU DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine student
Taylor says they’ve also expanded donations by creating a custom T-shirt with a local company, sold online for $24.99, with proceeds going to their cause.
The need for PPE is not limited to East Tennessee, Taylor said the group has sights set on expanding to provide support for hospitals in Chattanooga, too.
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