The Putnam County Health Department is grateful to our COVID volunteers

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More than 2,400 hours of personal time have been donated by Putnam Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s the number of hours it would take to travel to California from New York and back – 56 times!

Since the start of the pandemic two years ago, these CRM volunteers have played a vital role in our response. From March 2020 to our last COVID-19 vaccine distribution point in February, their invaluable help supported the health service in many ways – from responding to countless phone and email inquiries to providing more of 25,000 COVID vaccines.

For this dedication and commitment to helping our residents, the health department staff would like to express their deepest gratitude and appreciation.

Some volunteers have worked more than 30 PODs; others joined later in the pandemic when fatigue might have set in otherwise. A single volunteer logged 174 hours, the most hours of any person.

Witness these examples of their committed public service: They went to vaccination clinics in Brewster, Carmel and Philipstown in all weathers, including snow. They showed up as early as 8 a.m. and stayed as late as needed to complete their assigned tasks. They worked indoors and outdoors, sometimes in wet and freezing weather, with no complaints. They paid for their gas themselves, brought their own meals and snacks and received no financial compensation. When we expressed our thanks, they told us they only wanted to “help” and work together to “get shot”.

We will never know how many lives our CRM volunteers have helped save. Their individual and collective presence was immense. Their selfless contribution of time and resources has supported and protected the health of our 100,000 residents and our Ministry of Health staff. For that alone, they deserve our respect and gratitude. This selfless dedication highlights a support network firmly in place and growing.

In order to say thank you and give back to the MRC, the Department of Health has written a grant proposal to provide free training to these volunteers. Notification came recently that the proposal has been accepted and funded. By improving the training of our volunteers, we can continue to ensure the preparation and maintain the qualifications of our volunteers.

And our residents can be assured that we face the future armed with extraordinary human and volunteer resources, built on expertise, experience and perseverance.

Dr. Michael J. Nesheiwat
Putnam County Health Commissioner and Putnam County Health Department staff

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