NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As medical facilities continue to be overwhelmed by patients, thousands of people have signed up to provide relief.
Many retired healthcare professionals are volunteering with the Medical Reserve Corps.
But, as CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Monday, this is a fight that can also put them at risk.
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After a long career serving as a primary care physician and then as the commissioner for the Bronx office of the Department of Health, Dr. Jane Bedell retired last month.
“I was actually planning to be visiting my son in Wyoming,” Bedell said.
But the coronavirus pandemic changed that, and now Dr. Bedell is among the more than 11,000 healthcare volunteers who have answered the call to join the city’s Medical Reserve Corps.
As of Monday morning, 358 had signed up for shifts at healthcare facilities.
“I have a wanting to serve and my family wants to make sure I don’t go overboard,” Bedell said.
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Dr. Arthur Fougner with the Medical Society of the State of New York said volunteers will ideally be placed in lower-risk situations.
“For example, a retired physician or a newly graduated fourth-year medical student, for that matter, could easily sew up lacerations or take throat cultures, histories, that sort of thing,” Dr. Fougner said.
According to the Department of Health, all Medical Reserve Corps volunteers choose their assignments from a list of needs. They receive training and are reminded that their first responsibility is to their families.
“I don’t want to clog up a hospital bed or an ICU bed or use a ventilator that somebody else really needs,” Bedell said.
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A 63-year-old cancer survivor, Bedell said she has considered the risks.
“I’m like, oh my goodness I’ve been in this, so I can just jump right in. But, no, I’m in a different role now and I have to be very mindful of that,” Bedell said.
She’s mindful, but still passionate about serving.
“I feel like I want to do my part for the city I love,” Bedell said.
And as for that trip to Wyoming, she said she hopes to reschedule it for around this time next year.