Madison County Health Department receives national award

Award for Outstanding Sponsoring Organization for the Medical Reserve Corps

WOOD RIVER – Madison County Health Department on Tuesday received the National Award for Outstanding Sponsoring Organization for the Medical Reserve Corps.  The awards are given annually by the Medical Reserve Corps Program from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Madison County Health Department leadership and staff received this honorable national recognition for the Outstanding MRC Sponsoring Organization Award because of their continued commitment to fostering the identity and growth of the Madison County MRC unit while helping to sustain the support and enthusiasm of existing volunteers.  “They are the reason our MRC unit is able to continue to prepare in order to protect and promote the health and welfare of Madison County residents,” stated Cathy Paone, Madison County MRC Volunteer Coordinator.

Under the leadership of Toni Corona, Public Health Director, Madison County Health Department was instrumental in identifying the critical need to supplement existing staff during a public health emergency and championed the establishment of the Madison County Medical Reserve Corps on Nov. 3, 2005.  Currently, the Madison County MRC has 453 volunteers.

“It is a great honor today to accept this National Award for Outstanding Sponsoring Organization for the Medical Reserve Corps,” said Toni Corona (shown), Public Health director at Madison County Health Department.  “We are so appreciative of our residents’ willingness to engage in our community to help with public health issues and emergency response.  Madison County Health Department is proud to house the Madison County MRC and support their ongoing efforts to help us protect the public’s health.”

Madison County Health Department leadership and staff support the MRC program on a daily basis.  Colleagues are always available and willing to discuss new strategies for recruitment, training, engagement, and recognition and are willing to help at MRC trainings.  “Our MRC unit is fully integrated into our public health emergency response plan and volunteers have played important roles in our full-scale exercises,” stated Paone.  “When we asked to expand the role of our unit from being ready to respond in an emergency to also engage in opportunities to promote emergency preparedness and other health and wellness initiatives in the community, the proposal was immediately and enthusiastically approved by our Director.”

MCHD has always reached out in the community to form new and solidify existing partnerships.  The Substance Abuse Outreach Project provided us with an opportunity for MRC volunteers to engage in the community, become a part of fighting the opioid crisis in Madison County, and provide a helpful collaboration with the Madison County Partnership for Community Health (MCPCH) Partnership for Drug Free Communities – Treatment and Recovery Subcommittee.  MCHD and Madison County MRC partnerships with other community programs including: one of our area high school HOSA-Future Health Professionals chapter; the Madison County Citizen Corps Council; Community Emergency Response Team; Gateway Volunteer Network (all MRC units in the Illinois and Missouri bi-state area); Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, and Public Health; and the St. Louis Regional Radiological MRC are also heartily supported by MCHD and have allowed the MRC more opportunities for volunteer recruitment and training.

 

The Medical Reserve Corps Program is a national organization under the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services.  The MRC Program was established nationally during the 2002 State of the Union address by President George W. Bush in response to the need for a group of prepared and trained citizens to help in future times of emergency response situations.

“For many Americans, 2020 has left them feeling at a loss for how to help.  It has also provided an opportunity for citizens to recognize and seek different ways to help their community than ever before,” stated Corona.  “Being part of the MRC gives our residents a chance to put in to action a shared belief that by joining our neighbors and local leaders we can make our country stronger and better for decades to come.”

To learn more about the Madison County MRC or to join our efforts, visit www.co.madison.il.us/departments/health/medical_reserve_corps_(mrc).php or contact, Cathy Paone, Madison County Medical Reserve Corps Volunteer Coordinator at (618) 296-6096 or [email protected]

IBJ file photo.

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