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Medical Reserve Corps

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is answering the call to be part of the VDH pandemic response in our region. With our support as Contact Tracing extenders, VDH can contain small outbreaks and prevent the type of surge that could result in a return to stay-at-home orders.  

To complete the requirements, follow the steps below: 

  1. Register for the VDH Medical Reserve Corps
  2. Receive confirmatory email from VDH (in about 3 days)
  3. Complete the module, Making Contact: A Training for COVID-19 Contact Tracers
  4. Submit evidence of completion 

We have identified a significant and growing need in Southwest Virginia to support the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). In a recent conversation with Dr. Molly O’Dell, our region’s public health official, she confirmed that we do not currently have enough people trained in Contact Tracing to respond to an expected surge in COVID-19 cases that will come either from expansion of testing or from relaxation of physical distancing orders.   Each new case generates the important work of identifying contacts who have also been infected and facilitating precautions against further spread. As detailed in these stories from Wired and the New York Times, communities that have ramped up their Contact Tracing workforce have successfully contained the pandemic as physical distancing orders have been relaxed.

With our support as Contact Tracing extenders, VDH can contain small outbreaks and prevent the type of surge that could result in a return to stay-at-home orders.  Without containment,  our community’s ability to recover from the social and financial consequences of the pandemic will be hobbled, causing further delays in needed health care and persistent unemployment that disproportionally affect low-income and food-insecure communities. 

Therefore, I am appealing to our VTCSOM community – students, faculty, and staff – to work together and be part of the VDH pandemic response in our region:

All deans at VTCSOM have agreed to become members of the VDH Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and complete the 3-hour online training course on contact, so we can be ready to help when a spike in new cases overtakes the ability of VDH to trace these outbreaks. 

Today I requested that all students register for the VDH MRC and complete the 3-hour online training by June 15, as part of a proposed service learning requirement.

Through this note I am strongly encouraging our faculty and staff to join us by completing these 3 steps:

  1. Register for the VDH Medical Reserve Corps
  2. Receive confirmatory email from VDH (in about 3 days)
  3. Complete the module, Making Contact: A Training for COVID-19 Contact Tracers

The work that we at VTCSOM will do is primarily Contact Tracing, but there will be other related tasks as well like symptom check lists (case investigation), worksite outbreak investigation, data entry following targeted testing (e.g., nursing homes, neighborhoods), wellness monitoring, etc. All of the jobs can be done virtually.  If called upon to volunteer, MRC members  (including our students) are not required to say yes to every offer.  Per MRC procedures, we can respond to any given request as “not available.” 

Your participation is completely voluntary but much appreciated.  Many of us are already engaged in service activities that are important and personally meaningful.  Please continue these efforts – our community is most grateful.  To those of you who are able to sign up with the VDH Medical Reserve Corps, thank you for helping our community prepare for the next big push to contain the pandemic.  

We are truly in this together, and collectively we can make a difference for our public health system and community.

Lee A. Learman
Dean