May 25, 2021 | Atlanta, GA
One year ago, Good Samaritan Health Center, more commonly known as Good Sam in the Atlanta area, launched a Covid-19 helpline open to all Good Sam patients and the community at large with the purpose of providing accurate Covid-19 information, connecting patients with providers, and scheduling Covid-19 tests and vaccination appointments. Helpline volunteers have taken 30,000 calls, scheduled 20,000 Covid-19 tests, connected patients with providers, and supported the vaccination appointment process. The helpline is now operating in more than 15 other clinics.
Forty of Good Sam’s helpline volunteers have been Georgia Tech students, making up much of the volunteer pool throughout the year.
Priyasha Pareek, a Tech alumna, previously volunteered with Good Samaritan as a medical assistant before the pandemic. “I was devastated because I absolutely love working at Good Sam, so I reached out to see if there were any other ways that I could support the clinic’s efforts,” she said. As a result, she became one of the first helpline volunteers, and eventually was named co-captain of the helpline team.
Ritika Kumar, another Georgia Tech graduate, wanted to give back to her community after her college experience ended unexpectedly in March 2020. “I, like many others, felt unable to do anything other than stay home. I was fortunate enough to begin volunteering at Good Samaritan.” Her experiences highlighted the simple yet meaningful ways that the helpline provided support. After a call with an elderly client struggling to access Covid-19 test results due to password requirements, Kumar recognized the value of this kind of support. “It highlighted that the barrier to patient care often lies outside of medicine,” she said.
Current Tech student Uswa Khan serves as a community coordinator for the helpline and found that her experience aligned closely with one of her classes at Georgia Tech, Sociology of Health and Illness. “Having these [classroom and volunteer experience] parallels opened my eyes to the vast sociological issues in healthcare access,” Khan said. She also wants others to understand the impact that a small group of people can make in any area of life they’d like to give their time and energy to. “I have seen how willing Tech students are to help their surrounding communities.”
To learn more about the Good Samaritan initiative and how you can get involved, visit goodsamatlanta.org.