Medical students reach out to hemodialysis community in times of COVID-19

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Hallie Byrd tends to a hemodialysis patient during an LSU VSIG outreach event

As president of the Louisiana State University (LSU) Vascular Surgery Interest Group (VSIG), I’ve been eagerly exploring opportunities to engage with community members and uplift them on their journeys to improved health. 

As all are acutely aware, COVID-related restrictions on medical facilities and medical students alike have made it quite difficult for community involvement in a time when some (e.g., Zoom-based medical students and certain patient populations) could deeply benefit from greater socialization. One group of vascular patients that comes to mind are those receiving hemodialysis; between the dietary restrictions and burden of the treatment regime that such patients must regularly endure, I considered inspirational ways to hearten their recent Valentine’s Day (hello, off limits phosphate-laden chocolate). 

So, this Valentine’s Day, with the help of LSU’s Nephrology and Hypertension Interest Group (NHIG), LSU’s VSIG spearheaded a campus-wide drive for hemodialysis and diabetes-friendly candy and cards. These items were hand-packaged into individual goodie bags by several interest group members. On Feb. 14, we personally delivered these treats and handwritten cards to many of the 80 patients at our local DaVita Memorial dialysis unit. 

While only a small gesture, we could readily see the positive impact it had on the patients in the center. From the response, it seemed to make their day a little brighter and perhaps their treatment a bit more bearable. Hopefully, this will serve as a reminder that even small acts of kindness and consideration can impact our patients’ lives and health in a substantial way. 

Hallie Byrd, MS, is a medical student at LSU Health School of Medicine in New Orleans. 

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