Join the Medical & Citizen Reserve Corps

The Winthrop Board of Health is working with other local towns to mobilize volunteers for a Medical & Citizen Reserve Corps that would assist in the event of a health emergency.

Disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, tsunamis and the September 11 terrorist attacks have made communities all the more aware of the need for an organized group of qualified volunteers who are prepared to help. Future needs may include flu pandemic or bioterrorism. With this in mind, the Winthrop Board of Health would like to identify, credential and train as many volunteers as possible. Nurses, physicians, pharmacists, those with experience in public health, mental health, allied health professionals, and also non-medical citizens of Winthrop are urged to volunteer.

Recognizing that many professionals have limited time to volunteer, the Winthrop Board of Health encourages Medical Reserve Corps members to choose their level of participation. Volunteers may elect to serve their community both during emergencies and for more routine public health needs such as immunization clinics, screenings and health education, or strictly during emergencies. Because Winthrop is working in cooperation with 27 area communities to share resources, volunteers may also choose to serve only in their town or as part of the regional Medical Reserve Corps.

The other towns are all part of Massachusetts Public Health Region 4b*, which encompasses 27 cities and towns and 981,000 residents. The Region 4b Medical Reserve Corps will be a cadre of trained volunteers from communities in the region who will work with medical, public health and other local emergency responders to guarantee a timely and harmonized volunteer response for local and regional public health emergencies.

Medical Reserve Corps, a component of USA Freedom Corps, was created in 2002 to promote and organize volunteerism and service in the United States. While the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General oversees the national network of MRC volunteers, there are more then 200 MRC units throughout the nation. Each unit is organized locally to ensure that individual community needs are addressed.

More specific examples of practicing and retired professionals who are encouraged to volunteer include: physicians, nurses, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, epidemiologists, health educators, psychologists, social workers, chaplains, language interpreters, lawyers, funeral directors and administrators. Medical, public health, and other allied health professionals are also encouraged to apply. United States citizenship is not required to be a Medical Reserve Corps volunteer.

For more information, contact the Winthrop Board of Health at (617) 846-1740 or Alison Minkoff (617) 617-665-3871.

*Communities in Region 4b are: Arlington, Belmont, Braintree, Brookline, Cambridge, Canton, Chelsea, Cohasset, Everett, Dedham, Hanover, Hingham, Hull, Milton, Needham, Newton, Norwell, Norwood, Quincy, Revere, Scituate, Somerville, Watertown, Wellesley, Westwood, Weymouth and Winthrop.