Poughkeepsie... Marking 20 years since its inception, Dutchess County hosted a recognition dinner, attended by more than 120 Medical Reserve Corps of Dutchess County (MRC) volunteers, last night at the Villa Borghese in Wappingers Falls.
County Executive Molinaro said, “Our Dutchess MRC volunteers have been an important part of Dutchess County’s emergency response efforts for two decades, including assisting with the herculean task of our COVID-19 response. We are grateful to these dedicated men and women for their service and commitment to Dutchess County.”
The Dutchess County MRC began in 2002, when former County Executive William R. Steinhaus supported a grant proposal, in partnership with Northern Metropolitan Health Care Foundation (NorMet), to establish a volunteer medical service reserve corps to strengthen the capacity to respond to emergencies and to support local public health infrastructure.
The MRC is comprised of both healthcare and non-healthcare professionals who support Dutchess County’s Departments of Emergency Response and Behavioral & Community Health when responding to incidents of all kinds. Volunteers train throughout the year to be prepared to staff emergency shelters, assist with surveillance and notification efforts, conduct mass distribution of pharmaceuticals, and support countywide health and human service agencies’ efforts in the community.
The Dutchess MRC had its first major deployment in 2007, supporting seven shelters following widespread flooding and then again in 2009 following the H1N1 flu outbreak.
Most recently, Dutchess MRC has been an integral part of the County’s COVID-19 pandemic response and, in April, was honored by the National Medical Reserve Corps with a 2022 Community Response Award for its outstanding COVID-19 vaccine response. In 2020 and 2021, more than 500 volunteers contributed more than 40,000 hours – compared to 4,200 hours in all of 2019. This included giving over 22,000 hours at over 150 vaccine clinics, administering over 60,000 vaccinations to County residents. The MRC’s Vaccine Assistance Appointment Team (VAAT) also assisted those without access to computers or transportation to arrange appointments, transportation, and other services. Additionally, MRC volunteers spent thousands of hours assisting the County’s Department of Behavioral and Community Health with contact tracing and case investigation, community outreach, delivering groceries to those in isolation, assembling thousands of items of personal protective equipment (PPE) for distribution, handing out COVID-19 Test Kits, and more as part of the COVID-19 response.
Since its inception, the Dutchess MRC has been at the forefront of numerous other initiatives and trainings, setting the bar for similar organizations throughout the state, including:
MRC volunteers are welcoming faces and numerous events held throughout the year, such as the County’s Office for the Aging Senior Picnic series or community events such as the Dutchess County Fair. Volunteers serve as greeters, logistics support, and provide medical assistance as needed.
Dutchess MRC Coordinator Joe Ryan said, “The many volunteers of the Dutchess County Medical Reserve Corps are dedicated men and women who know what it means to ‘do good.’ Whether giving their time and talents at a first aid tent at a senior picnic or literally helping keep our community safe during an emergency, these individuals enhance Dutchess County’s ability to be prepared for and respond to significant events.”
Dutchess MRC now boasts more than 1,704 volunteers. For more information or to sign-up to volunteer, visit dutchessny.gov/mrc.