By: Follow South Jersey Staff
NORTHFIELD, N.J. — 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.
However, according to its health officer, nurses, health educators, and support staff, the team could not have managed without the extraordinary assistance it has received from its Medical Reserve Corps volunteers.
“We’ve faced many challenges during the past year and having the support of our MRC has been invaluable,” 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.”
After the terrorist attacks on September 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-thru test sites and/or the 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,” Levinson added. “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, have each dedicated more than 100 hours at the drive-thru test site in Northfield. Another 40 volunteers have served as vaccinators at the Atlantic County Mega Site 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.
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