Medical reserve corps helpers sought

Are you at least 18 years old and interested in helping out if county residents are faced with a wid

Are you at least 18 years old and interested in helping out if county residents are faced with a widespread health emergency or disaster?

Health officials are looking for as many as 750 people to volunteer for a medical reserve corps, according to Sue Hathaway, deputy director of the county Health Department. That’s roughly 2 percent of the county’s approximately 32,000 residents.

Officials will outline the program, authorized by the county Board of Supervisors in March, during an information meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the cafeteria of Cobleskill-Richmondville High School on Route 7, Warnerville.

Now that the program has been registered with the federal government, letters recently went out to about 500 medical professionals who reside in the county, Hathaway said Monday. In the first week or so, she said at least 25 professionals have indicated interest in volunteering.

Identifying interested doctors, physician’s assistants, nurses, dentists, veterinarians and other health care workers willing to administer inoculations or dispense medications or care is one part of the program, she said.

“But there are a lot of other jobs that need to done,” Hathaway said. “We’re looking for all kinds of people.”

In the event of a major health emergency, such as a pandemic flu, a bioterrorism attack, a chemical, radiological, explosive or nuclear emergency, or even a natural disaster such as a flood, many people will be needed to help organize activities and store or transport medicines, she said.

“We need volunteers to help register people, who could park cars, runners [to deliver information,] and security people,” she noted.

“Depending on their abilities, we would have a job for anyone to do. Even if they’re in a wheelchair and can’t lift anything, they can register people or do something,” Hathaway said.

As part of a coordinated program for the Albany metropolitan area, Hathaway said, the Schoharie County group has been meeting since last fall to plan similar volunteer corps also serving Schenectady, Albany, Saratoga and Rensselaer counties.

The Schoharie County corps was initially funded by a $65,000 federal grant from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control, followed by another $25,000 CDC grant, Hathaway said.

Part of those funds pay to contract with Shelly Glock to coordinate the local Medical Reserve Corps over the next year or so. No direct county funds are involved, according to Hathaway.

Local storage sites for medications have been identified, she said. The locations will not be publicized to protect the supplies and personnel, Hathaway said.

If a widespread emergency is identified, the specific medications or supplies needed would likely be sent into the Albany area and picked up by reserve corps members for local distribution.

“We would need to identify and credential people in advance, especially medical people,” she said.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the program is urged to attend Wednesday’s hourlong meeting. Sandwiches and refreshments will be provided.

Categories: Schenectady County

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