COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Site Support and Documentation
Snohomish County Medical Reserve Corps
Volunteering with the Medical Reserve Corps in Snohomish County has provided me with a way to stay involved with people and contribute to the safety of our community. I retired from Edmonds Community College, just north of Seattle, in 2018. Following winter storms, I volunteered at the local cold weather shelter. The shelter was run by the Medical Reserve Corps of Snohomish County. After learning about the great work that MRC was doing in my community, and I became an official MRC volunteer, although I don’t have a medical background.
I helped staff the local winter cold weather shelter for a couple of years when the COVID-19 outbreak happened. In fact, at that time the first officially reported case in the U.S. was here in Snohomish County. As part of our training, we had practiced setting up a POD (Point of Distribution) and setting up vaccination sites – so we knew we had the skills to help.
As the COVID outbreak became a pandemic, the first need for volunteers was to staff a call center to handle calls from medical providers/first responders, provide basic information on COVID patient protocols, and then pass the call on to health district medical personnel for specific advice. We also needed to pick up COVID test samples from nursing homes and medical locations and deliver them to lab sites, as well as deliver food and supplies such as thermometers to people quarantining.
As I spoke with people who were recovering from COVID and isolating, I realized how the pandemic created significant hardship for individuals and families, particularly single parent families with few resources. After witnessing the stress that isolation caused firsthand, being a part of COVID vaccination efforts was especially exciting for me. I knew that we were making a real difference in people’s lives by protecting them from the virus and helping to stop the spread of COVID.
Working on the mobile vaccination sites was my favorite. We partnered with community organizations including a church, school, senior center, and our local public agency to provide a 2-5 hour vaccination session. The vaccinations were given by MRC volunteer medical practitioners, and by they relied on non-medical MRC volunteers to operate the mobile clinics. Unlike the drive through sites, the mobile sites provided volunteers with more opportunities to meet people and I felt more personally involved.
Beyond the rewards in serving and helping others, volunteering with MRC is a great way to meet new people in your community and learn new skills. Good communication abilities are helpful in volunteering, but there are a variety of positions that come up, and there are ways to contribute even if you aren’t a medical provider. It’s also good to have an awareness of and taste for “expecting the unexpected.” I have been impressed with the people and volunteers of the Snohomish Health District and Department of Emergency Management who have built our pandemic response and adapted it to the rapidly changing situation of COVID over the past two years. It’s been an honor and privilege to have been a part of their work.