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Volunteers sought for COVID-19 response

J. H. Osborne • Apr 7, 2020 at 9:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — The Sullivan County Regional Health Department is seeking volunteers to help in the agency’s response to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

The department is especially looking, at this point, for licensed practical nurses and registered nurses, but the need could rapidly expand to include volunteers with other medical training and non-medical volunteers, Gary Mayes said on Monday. Mayes is director of the health department.

Mayes said the department has a longstanding program in place to coordinate volunteers. It’s called the Sullivan County Medical Reserve Corps. Its coordinator, Kinley Reed, said the local unit is among 940 across the United States and the concept of the program dates back to early 2002. That’s when then-President George W. Bush, during his first State of the Union speech after the 9/11 terrorists attacks, first encouraged people who wanted to help during such disasters to pursue volunteer work in their communities.

Mayes said health department staff are working at full speed already and he expects demand for services to increase in the next week to two weeks.

Reed said right now the department is seeking LPNs and RNs, primarily to work the department’s COVID-19 telephone hotline, but the need could shift at any time. So it wouldn’t hurt for non-medical volunteers to go ahead and register as well.

“The situation changes day by day, if not minute by minute,” Reed said. “The goal of the Medical Reserve Corps is to organize interested volunteers so they are able to share their time and skill sets to help mitigate and respond in times of crisis, including health emergencies or natural disasters.There’s a spot for everyone in the MRC.”

To register as a potential volunteer for the Medial Reserve Corps in Tennessee, visit the website www.tnmrc.org. Once you’ve registered, if you want to become a volunteer for Sullivan County, contact Reed by email at [email protected] Reed will contact volunteers individually with instructions on how to proceed. Volunteers must complete two online classes and Reed will run a background check on all volunteers and, for medical volunteers such as LPNs and RNs, verify their license.

To volunteer for the Medical Reserve Corps in Virginia, visit the website http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/mrc/.

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