Though the University of Vermont has closed its doors to the student body amid the spread of COVID-19, things have certainly not slowed down for the UVM interns working in close proximity to the medical world. Paige Hamilton (‘20) sheds some light on the work she has been doing to contribute to the UVM Medical Center’s equipment supply.
What work are you doing related to COVID-19 response?
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been doing prep work in conjunction with the hospital staff to prepare spaces and equipment for COVID-19 patients. This has included testing equipment from storage to meet patient needs in new COVID-19 care areas along with my regular work of repairing medical equipment that comes into our workshop. Lately, I have been working with my coworkers in prepping ventilators for use and doing preventative maintenance as well as calibrating thermometers so patients can be accurately screened.
What work do you usually do? (internship, job, major/minor, any extracurricular interests)
I am a Biomedical Engineering major with a minor in mathematics. I got an internship with UVM Technical Services Partnership (TSP) the spring of my sophomore year and have been working there ever since. My first year I worked as a Clinical Engineering Intern in the business office and the second I have been working at the hospital as a Biomedical Engineering Test Technician Intern. I am also the current president of the Society of Women Engineers and one of the founders of the Women In STEM and Health (WISH) Living and Learning Communities in L/L. I have also been a CEMS Peer Mentor for the past three years.
How did you find out about the opportunity to help?
My job was really the reason why I am so involved in this effort. I have been asked several times during the past few weeks if I felt comfortable staying doing this work but I feel really strongly that this is where I'm meant to be.
Can you share one interaction or situation that resonates with you about your experience related to the COVID-19 response?
Early on in my time at TSP I had the opportunity to go to the storage warehouse where we have access to medical equipment that is no longer in service. I remember that day asking my coworker about the ventilators that we had out there and his response was that they were for natural disasters or mass casualties just in case something were to happen. At the time, never would I have imagined a situation where we would need this equipment; after all, this is Vermont. Last week, I was tasked to go pick up these ventilators from the warehouse and bring them to the main hospital. It struck at that moment how out of control and scary the world felt to get to a point where we would need these units but yet I was still able to do just this one good thing. I have been thinking about that moment every day that I continue to work at the hospital in that I may not be able to do everything, but its really about doing the next right thing, one day at a time, and that's what counts.
What is one thing you want to remember about this time?
Above all else, I want to remember the outpouring of love an compassion that people have shown for one another during this time. I have seen people offering to help their elderly community members with grocery shopping and an outpouring of kindness towards those that have less. It is my genuine hope that once we see this crisis through, that we as a community continue to come together in kindness and change the way that we treat one another.
Paige Hamilton, like many UVM students in the face of COVID-19, has taken this opportunity to continue to devote herself to her passion, career, and community. The University of Vermont and the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences are proud to be part of that community.