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Answering the Call to Serve

April 10, 2020

For the last month, members of the Wegmans School of Pharmacy have served with the Monroe County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) helping local health officials respond to COVID-19 cases in the area.

Dr. Keith DelMonte and several members of the Wegmans School of Pharmacy are volunteers with the Monroe County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) helping local health officials respond to COVID-19 cases in the area.

The MRC is designed to assist the county in responding to large-scale public health emergencies. Medical volunteers help with medication dispensing, vaccinations, language translation, and other tasks, while non-medical volunteers may provide security, IT, logistics, and transportation skills.

Dr. Keith DelMonte, director of experiential education and continuing professional education at the School, joined the MRC more than 10 years ago, after attending a free training offered by the county and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The session inspired him to register as a MRC volunteer and a volunteer for ServNY, the statewide equivalent.

“Creating this team prior to an emergency is essential to assure that we can quickly mobilize to serve our community,” he said. “I thought it would be great to get more pharmacists involved. The best way to do this is get them interested while in school, so an elective was created.”

During the elective course, now in its second semester, DelMonte, co-instructor Dr. Todd Camenisch, and a handful of students attended education events, toured the Monroe County incident command center, and reviewed research. Then, study suddenly became practice in mid-March, as COVID-19 cases began being reported in Rochester. The MRC was activated, and the team got to work.

Earlier in the month, members of the pharmacy team were conducting home visits, serving quarantine notices, administering swab tests for COVID-19, or doing wellness checks on patients. As the number of cases increased, the team began handling cases by phone.

For students who weren’t able to finish their clinical rotations, DelMonte said serving on the MRC is giving them valuable experience as members of a health care team.

“The students are learning a lot about community-based health and how the County Department of Health functions,” he said. “More importantly, they are getting a great experience in dealing with the public, especially in an unsettling time.”