The Atlantic County Division of Public Health has been working for more than a year to protect residents from COVID-19 by providing testing, contact tracing, education and vaccinations. But according to its Health Officer Patricia Diamond, nurses, health educators and support staff, the team could not have managed without the extraordinary assistance it has received from its volunteer Medical Reserve Corps.
After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the Medical Reserve Corps was established as a national network of volunteers to assist in the event of a disaster. There are now approximately 800 MRCs across the U.S. with more than 185,000 volunteers, many of whom have medical backgrounds or experience. All undergo background checks and receive training.
The Atlantic County MRC currently has 257 members. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, 75 of its members have actively participated at the county’s drive-through test sites and vaccination sites. Fifty-five of them joined the MRC last March because they specifically wanted to help during the pandemic.
“We’ve faced many challenges during the past year and having the support of our MRC has been invaluable,” Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said. “They have performed at an extremely high level. Without them, it would have been more difficult to provide all the COVID-related services we have in addition to our routine responsibilities. Atlantic County owes them a tremendous debt of gratitude.”
Susan Houde, a licensed nurse from Mays Landing and president of a highway electrical construction company, and Howard Cohen, a retired casino financial analyst from Galloway Township, have each dedicated more than 100 hours at the drive-through test site in Northfield. Another 40 volunteers have served as vaccinators at the Atlantic County Megasite in Atlantic City since it opened in late January.
Atlantic County MRC Coordinators Nancy Lord and Ben Mount noted that its volunteers have donated nearly 3,000 hours of service. In addition to providing vaccinations, volunteers have served as greeters, provided traffic control assistance, clerical assistance and specimen collection.
The Division of Public Health plans to recognize each of the participating MRC volunteers with certificates of appreciation.
For more information about the Medical Reserve Corps, see https://readyatlantic.org/get/mrc.asp