More than 2,400 hours of personal time were donated by volunteers of Putnam County’s Medical Reserve Corps during the COVID pandemic. That’s the number of hours it would take to drive to California from New York, and back 56 times. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic nearly two years ago, MRC volunteers have played an integral role in our response. From March 2020 through to our last COVID-19 vaccine Point of Dispensing (POD) in February 2022, their invaluable assistance supported the health department in multiple ways — from fielding countless phone and email inquiries, to providing over 25,000 COVID vaccinations. For this dedication and commitment helping our residents, the Putnam County Department of Health staff wishes to express its deepest gratitude and appreciation. 

Some volunteers worked more than 30 PODs; others joined later in the pandemic when fatigue might have set in otherwise. One volunteer logged 174 hours. 

Witness these examples of their committed public service: They drove to vaccine clinics in Brewster, Carmel and Philipstown in all types of weather, including snow. They reported 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 frigid weather, with no complaints. They paid for their own gas, brought their 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 shots in arms.” 

We will never know how many lives our MRC volunteers helped save. Their individual and collective presence was immense. Their selfless contribution of time and resources supported and safeguarded the health of our 100,000 residents and our Health Department staff. For that alone, they deserve our respect and gratitude. This altruistic dedication spotlights a support network solidly in place and growing.  

As thanks and to give back to the MRC, the Health Department wrote a grant proposal to provide free training to these volunteers. Notification recently came that the proposal was accepted and funded. By enhancing the training of our volunteers, we can continue to assure readiness and sustain qualifications of our volunteers. And our residents can rest assured that we face the future armed with extraordinary human resources and volunteerism, built upon expertise, experience and perseverance.  

Dr. Michael Nesheiwat, Carmel
Nesheiwat is the Putnam County health commissioner.

Behind The Story

Type: Opinion

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