University of Colorado - Advancement | CU Foundation - Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus

When the pandemic hits close to home

Emergency relief funding supports frontline workers and research in response to COVID-19.

A young woman with shoulder length dark hair smiles in her white medical coat. The background is an artistic design of colorful shapes.

When the coronavirus hit this spring, Sneha Shah knew as a medical resident she would be on the front lines of COVID-19. But suddenly the pandemic hit close to home: her partner Trevor Minton earns most of his income as a professional cellist, performing with organizations like the Colorado Ballet and Opera Colorado, and suddenly major music events had all but evaporated. As a gig worker, he didn’t qualify for government assistance.

Shah knew they would find a way to face this uncertainty together.

A young couple sits on a park bench outside.

Trevor Minton, left, and Sneha Shah, MD

Shah applied for CU Anschutz’s Medical Resident Relief Fund for help covering housing costs, so the couple would have one less thing to worry about.

Thanks to generous donors, the Medical Resident Relief Fund supports medical residents and fellows through unexpected hardships related to the pandemic. Since April, the fund has helped 40 residents and fellows cover childcare costs, auto repairs, fees for exams and trainings, mental health services and more.

“I find that asking for help sometimes is really hard to do, especially when you're asking for financial help. Trevor is a very strong person, but I definitely saw a change in him. As you can imagine for any person who has a significant job loss, it was just terrifying to think that he might have to give up cello as a career. The stress of that was a big burden.”

CU Anschutz has other COVID-19-related funds that donors have given to support workers in pulmonary health care, emergency medicine and pandemic research.

Fresh bread, flowers and meals

A care package that Shah, a CU medical resident working with COVID-19 patients, received through Project Lift.

In addition to relief funding, Shah received a care package through Project Lift, a CU Anschutz program that connects health care professionals to mentor and provide help to medical students and fellows during COVID-19.

When the pandemic first started, Shah worked overnight shifts in the makeshift ICU unit for COVID-19 patients at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. Shah thought she might receive a few premade meals she could reheat at work. Instead, she received fresh bread and flowers, soup, candles and chocolate from a pediatric nephrologist from Children's Hospital Colorado.

Generous support like this has helped alleviate some of the fears the couple felt in the early days of the pandemic and has allowed them to focus on the future.

“The university, and our campus, has done a fantastic job of putting our physical safety and emotional well-being first. In the future, we would love to pay it forward because we've been inspired by these donors who were generous enough to give. We were just so beyond thankful to have the assistance when we needed it the most.”

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