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Thanks to volunteers

The more than 100,000 residents in the Western Tidewater Health District owe a debt of gratitude to a small, select group of 200 — the volunteers of the Western Tidewater Medical Reserve Corps.

These are people who decided they couldn’t just stand by without doing anything to help fight the spread of coronavirus. Knowing they were putting themselves at risk of contracting the virus due to increased contact with others, they signed up to help with things like running drive-through testing sites so that health department employees could return to regular duties or do other behind-the-scenes work, and so that the health department would not have to pay thousands to another group to do the work.

Many of them have health care experience, but some do not. They come from all different walks of life, but they clearly have one thing in common: caring for their fellow people.

Sandra Ruiz and Robin Jones are two of the 200, and they talked recently about what it was like to make that decision.

“I just couldn’t stay home doing nothing,” Ruiz said.

Jones said the health care profession never really leaves you: “It’s just having something to do and helping other people. If you’re in health care, you’re there for the people. When you’re retired, you don’t really retire.”

The Medical Reserve Corps is not a new invention for the COVID-19 virus. The local MRC was formed in September 2003, only two years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that spurred the development of Medical Reserve Corps units across the country.

In certain times past, membership in our local Medical Reserve Corps was slim, and active participation by the membership was slimmer still, a frustration to past coordinators. However, we are happy to see its numbers and participation boosted, if only because of the attention brought upon the need for medical volunteers thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This excellent group is helping the Western Tidewater Health District weather the storm, and we could not be more grateful.

For more information about the Medical Reserve Corps, contact Connor Smith at 757-514-4768 or email westerntidewater@vamrc.org.