New Jersey Medical Reserve Corps

Category: Healthcare Service
Nominator: Julie Petix

What was their service?

Created in 2005, the NJ Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a network of 24 community-based units comprised of volunteers who help ensure their communities are healthy, prepared, and resilient.  MRC Units are housed within local health agencies.  During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteer activities included operating or supporting COVID-19 test sites, logistics, case investigation, contact tracing, hotlines, meal packing/distribution at food banks, Social Distance Ambassadors in shore communities, well checks of homebound, combating social isolation with art, and creating face shields, masks, and extenders for distribution.  MRC volunteers also assisted with the evacuation of residents of a long-term care facility closed for cleaning.  With the availability of vaccines, MRC volunteers support vaccination sites throughout New Jersey.

What motivated them to serve/volunteer? 

When the COVID pandemic began, MRC volunteers across NJ boldly stepped forward to serve their communities.  Many responded to Governor Murphy’s “call for individuals with prior medical experience.”  MRC volunteers serve indoors and outdoors in all types of weather (heat, cold, wind, rain, snow, ice).  MRC volunteers are diverse and include nurses, pharmacists, physicians, physician assistants, dentists, veterinarians, EMTs, paramedics, medical/nursing students, and even researchers who helped developed a COVID-19 vaccine! Volunteers also perform important services such as registration, data entry, patient flow, reception, and education. Some MRC volunteers are married couples. About 60% of MRC volunteer vaccinators are retirees. MRC volunteers include veterans of the US Armed Forces.  They are some of our most efficient and reliable volunteers. Their focus parallels their military training: “move (patient throughput), shoot (vaccinate), and communicate.”

What did they achieve/how did they make a difference? 

Simply put, many New Jersey local health agencies (where MRC Units are housed) have repeatedly stated they could not implement their COVID-19 response activities without the assistance of the MRC.  Currently, an estimated 1,000 MRC volunteers deploy each week for COVID-19 response activities at about 30 or more vaccination sites across the state.  This includes vaccine Mega-Sites located in Atlantic City, Moorestown, Rockaway, and Newark. Other vaccination sites include hotels, churches, vocational technical schools, senior housing, senior centers, community centers, parking lot of a former corporate headquarters, fire training academies, county fairgrounds, hospitals, field hospitals, fire houses, college/university campuses, high rises, elder care centers, K-12 schools (playgrounds, parking lots), shopping mall parking lots, convention centers, former Amish market, private homes to vaccinate the homebound, homeless population sites, foodbanks, and county jail. The estimated number of COVID-19 diagnostic tests (nasal swab, saliva, antibody) performed or supported by MRC volunteers since the beginning of the pandemic to date is about 300,000; the estimated number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered or supported by MRC volunteers since vaccines became available to date is over 200,000.  The current estimated total economic value of MRC COVID-19 response activities is estimated at over $2,000,000.