2009-09-30 / Columnists

­Have a heart, become a ServNY health volunteer

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) urges health care professionals and other New Yorkers to sign up at the ServNY volunteer registry – a Web-based program for recruiting and deploying volun­teers to provide essential health services during public health emergencies. Under Governor David A. Paterson’s leadership, New York State is prepared to activate its health emergency preparedness plan. Crucial to the plan is having an ad­equate corps of trained volunteers ready to respond quickly to a public health emergency. “This registry of volunteers may be called upon in the response to a natural disaster, widespread disease outbreak, or other public health emergency,” said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. “State and county volunteer programs must be prepared to quickly send additional staff and resources when and where they are needed most.” In the event that a major resurgence of novel H1N1 influenza occurs in the fall and winter, as many pub­lic health officials predict, volunteers may be needed to provide vaccines and assist in the delivery of other essential services to keep New Yorkers as safe as pos­sible. TheServNY volunteer management system is a Web-based registry of health care professionals and other individuals who are willing to volunteer on behalf of New York State during an emergency. The registration process collects and verifies contact information, pro­fessional qualifications, current health care practice in­formation, and other relevant data. When registering, volunteers have the option of signing up for ServNY or for their local volunteer program. DOH developed the ServNY volunteer registry in partnership with county health departments, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Medical Society of the State of New York, hospital associations, and other medical professional organiza­tions. The registry is currently used by all local health departments and Medical Reserve Corps for manage­ment of volunteer programs. “We can’t wait until an emergency occurs to recruit volunteers,” said Commissioner Daines. “We need to build the volunteer registry now so that we have a large volunteer base with known credentials and training, enabling these individuals to be deployed quickly during an emergency.” Registration in ServNY is open to any health care or mental health professional, as well as laypersons who are willing to serve in administrative or support roles during public health emergencies. Interested individu­als can register online at www.nyhealth.gov/ServNY, or contact their local county health department or local Medical Reserve Corps.

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