Student Volunteer Group Works to Comfort Mental Health Patients in Assisted Facilities
India-West Staff Reporter
FREMONT, CA – Two rising seniors at American High School here, Sashank Batchu and Bhuvi Kedia, a couple of years ago, moved by the plight of hospitalized patients in sub-acute, post-acute, and assisted living facilities, founded the Medical Student Association.
If the plan was to have volunteers help out when they found time, it has gone well beyond that with the founders saying that they have been able to impact the lives of more than 2000 patients, in 25+ facilities predominantly in the Bay Area, while also accumulating a member base of more than 750+ individuals.
Most of the patients the group assists suffer from a wide range of cognitive, respiratory, and neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and dementia. Many are completely bedridden and non-verbal. “With the strict regulations from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more pivotal to take a stance and provide them with the affection and attention that they deserve — which is precisely what we aspire to do,” said Batchu.
The founders explained that in the ‘Be a Buddy’ program, volunteers from MSA connect with patients by engaging in a wide variety of individualized activities that address the personal interests of the patients like reading books, singing songs and playing an instrument. That it is effective was supported by the North Fremont Brookdale Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care and Ashley House care centers.
MSA said they had also donated items worth over $20,000. These personalized kits include items that not only cater to patients’ interests but also address their medical needs through therapies such as aroma and touch.