Laura Hess, a recently retired Primary Care Nurse Practitioner has had a busy year. When the pandemic hit hard in March, Laura wanted to find a way to contribute. Inspired by the mission of the Sacramento Medical Reserve Corps (SMRC) she started to volunteer by staffing the Sacramento County Public Health COVID-19 Medical Hotline.
SMRC recruits, trains, deploys and retains volunteer health professionals, and supports volunteers who contribute their skills and expertise during an emergency.
Members of SMRC can be called upon in the event of a large-scale disaster, public health emergency, hospital surge, or to provide medical-related support to shelters. Throughout the year, the SMRC supports public health with flu clinics, participates in community disaster preparedness drills, staffs first aid stations at community events, provides health screenings at health fairs, and distributes health and emergency preparedness information at local events.
Since last June, Laura has worked weekly supporting the COVID-19 hotline answering questions from the Sacramento County community. Laura educates callers about the medical aspects of COVID-19 and helps callers access community resources and walk them through their fears and anxieties. In recent months, she also started helping with medical chart review for contact tracing. When the vaccination clinics opened, Laura started helping with administering vaccinations and monitoring patients.
“My volunteer work with the SMRC and COVID-19 has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. The compassion, teamwork and commitment of our local Public Health Department has inspired me to give back to our community,” said Laura.
Since the pandemic began, hundreds of MRC units have deployed volunteers to help with the COVID-19 response and logged hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours.
SMRC volunteers like Laura are now supporting vaccination clinics for COVID-19. Volunteers work tirelessly to administer doses of vaccine as quickly as they can. At this time, vaccines are prioritized for essential worker groups working in Sacramento County that fall into Phase 1a Tier 1 – 3, and the County has begun vaccinating certain groups working in Sacramento County in Phase 1b Tier 1, such as Emergency Services and Education/Child Care workers. Additionally SMRC volunteers are supporting vaccine clinics planned throughout Sacramento County for those who are at least 65 years old living in Sacramento County.
In February, Sacramento County began coordinating vaccinations at various sites for those who are living in Sacramento County and are 75 years old and older, and at other sites for those 65 years old and older. Sacramento County is also using the limited vaccine allocation to continue vaccinating Phase 1a Tier 1 – 3 priority list of workers – healthcare, first responders and congregate care setting staff as well as groups in Phase 1b Tiers 1 – 2.
”SMRC volunteers have been such an important part of the Sacramento County Public Health COVID-19 response, they have dedicated thousands of hours to answering phones, working at our testing sites, contact tracing, vaccination clinics and more,” said Megan Sheffield, Sacramento County Public Health Volunteer Coordinator for the COVID-19 response. “With the help of SMRC volunteers, Sacramento County Public Health has been able to serve our community during these unprecedented times,”
“I am so thankful for our remarkable SMRC members who generously give their time and expertise to help our community and assist Sacramento County Public Health with the COVID-19 pandemic response effort. Our membership numbers have close to tripled since the start of COVID-19,” said Lynn Pesely, Coordinator, Sacramento Medical Reserve Corps.
The SMRC currently has more than 600 volunteer medical professionals and non-medical members who have served an estimated 14,000 hours for the COVID-19 response effort to date
The SMRC has supported Sacramento County Public Health with staffing in the following roles:
- Vaccination and testing clinics
- COVID-19 Hotline
- After-hours COVID-19 phone guidance for medical facilities
- Flu clinics
- Public Health Laboratory Courier
- Laboratory Coordinator
- Contact tracing
- Case investigations
Some members have said that volunteering for the SMRC has helped them get through this challenging year. To volunteer for the SMRC, visit the SMRC Foundation website to fill out an application online.