The social distancing requirements of 2020 have created unique opportunities for Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) students to engage in community service in non-traditional and creative ways. Some student organizations have been able to conduct virtual events and mentoring sessions, while others have found ways to donate to local causes. Recently, ACOM’s Emergency Medicine Interest Group (EMIG) assembled and donated 200 hygiene kits to the emergency department at Southeast Health for the homeless population and the underserved.
EMIG, the ACOM chapter for the American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians Resident Student Organization (ACOEP-RSO), strives to promote emergency medicine as a “front-line specialty that interacts with the community heavily.” ACOM’s chapter wanted to find a meaningful way to bring this mission to life here in Dothan. With winter upon us and given the continued spread of COVID-19, EMIG recognized the importance of providing hygiene items to those in greatest need.
“With the COVID pandemic, there was a lot of restriction put on in-person community service, so we thought outside the box on how we could still have an impact on the community and maintain our social distance,” Kyle Cohen, OMS-II, president of EMIG.
Each donated kit includes a bottle of water, snack bars, toothbrush and toothpaste, body wipes, lip balm, deodorant, lotion, tissues, hand sanitizer and socks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintain that washing hands can help prevent the spread of disease. Through the distribution of these kits, EMIG hopes to maintain an impact on the underserved community while promoting the simplest form of safety during these times, hygiene.
“The emergency department is a contact point for those in most need of assistance, and this involves a high volume of homeless patients,” Cohen said, “We thought that providing these hygiene items may help to ease some burden, provide some comfort for these patients, and promote hygiene and wellness within the community.”
ACOM believes in inspiring medicine through human touch. With the ingenuity of groups such as EMIG, ACOM students continue to impact Dothan and the surrounding communities despite the challenges of 2020.
“My hope is that this project continues and provides meaningful goods for people within our community,” Cohen said, “With the restrictions that we currently have, it is difficult to have any type of personal interaction and community education type events. With this project, we were at least able to promote good hygiene in a time that it is of utmost importance.”