Coronavirus News: Med students volunteer to provide services like babysitting and pet walking for health care heroes

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A group of medical students is selflessly volunteering their time to help those on the front lines by providing services like child care and pet care for health care workers.

With Gunjan Desai's clinical rotations on hold, the third-year medical student at Ross University knew she had to help those on the front lines.

"They're so overworked and they have extra shifts come out of nowhere, they don't know where to turn to," Desai said.

But they can now turn to her. Desai formed NYC's chapter of NYC COVIDSitters where she, along with her fellow medical students, provide free services for all essential workers in New York City and Long Island.

Those services can include childcare, pet sitting, pet walking, running errands or even online tutoring.

It's a godsend for Dr. Neelam Khan who is working 6-day, 80-hour weeks at SUNY Downstate in the COVID-19 unit.

"When I was off my shift, it was difficult to stop or get rest," Khan said.

One day, the severely sleep-deprived physician had to get a hazmat suit to a co-worker picking up a shift when she came across the group who offered to do it instead.

"The fact they're choosing to do this, a form of volunteering to help, relieving the people on the front lines, is amazing," Kahn said.

Desai says anyone who wants to volunteer or who needs the services can fill a form online -- and know there are strict safety guidelines.

"They have to sign a contract and we list the CDC guidelines and we send out a safety checklist once they get matched," Desai said.

So far nearly half a dozen people have been helped, and there are so many more to go.

"Even if we can help one health care worker, we did our part," Desai said.

Click here to learn more or email NYC COVIDSitters at



Grieving the lost: Tri-State residents who have died
New York state
New Jersey
Long Island

Where are the testing centers
See how our communities are making a difference
Free educational resources for parents and children
How you can help victims of coronavirus


Share your coronavirus story with Eyewitness News
Stimulus check scams and other coronavirus hoaxes
Coronavirus prevention: how clean are your hands?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on coronavirus
Total count of NYC COVID-19 cases based on patient address

Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.