PORTLAND, Maine — Brianna Boutin, a pediatric nurse practitioner with Central Maine Medical Center, is feeling a sense of relief even during the most challenging time of her career.
"It's been scary. It's been interesting. It's been really unpredictable,” Brianna Boutin said.
Boutin is one of at least 22 health care providers across the state who are taking advantage of the Maine COVID Sitters program amid the coronavirus pandemic.
She told NEWS CENTER Maine when the outbreak started to intensify, she was worried about whether she would be able to still go to work when her young son’s child care center closed because of the virus, but she knew she was needed.
“The last thing those of us in the health care field want to do is step back and not help,” Boutin said.
So when Boutin found out about the Maine COVID Sitters, she knew she had to give it a shot.
Fortunately dozens of students studying medicine, nursing, and more were ready to help when they themselves could not be on the front lines.
"It's a small way to say thank you to all the people who are really pulling the weight for us right now,” Catherine Cattley said.
The group is made up of medical students from the University of New England and Tufts University here in Maine.
Cattley, an osteopathic medical student at UNE and founding member, said the organization was able to get off the ground quickly because it used resources from a similar program that was started at University of Minnesota.
In just weeks the COVID Sitters has grown to 55 strong.
“The families are so grateful for what we're doing which is like a tiny fraction for what they're doing for our entire Maine community right now,” Cattley said.
The services the students provide are everything a normal ‘babysitter’ would, from playing with the kids to doing basic household tasks—and it is free.
“I’m paying in cookies for now,” Boutin said.
Boutin said she cannot repay them for the sense of security they have provided her and her family.
"It made me feel like I could fulfill a duty,” Boutin said. “I'm doing something to help because they're helping me."
Maine COVID SItters is still looking for student volunteers and families to help.