January 23, 2004

School of Nursing awarded federal funds to build local Medical Reserve Corps

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Betsy Weiner, Ph.D.

School of Nursing awarded federal funds to build local Medical Reserve Corps

The School of Nursing was recently awarded a federal grant to establish a local Medical Reserve Corps of trained health care professionals who could respond to a mass casualty or other emergency event in the Nashville community.

The $50,000 grant is the maximum amount the federal government awarded to nearly 170 different institutions and organizations working to develop a Medical Reserve Corps in their own communities. The Medical Reserve Corps was established by President George W. Bush after the events on Sept. 11, as a way for health professionals to volunteer to be a part of a locally-based group of first responders. “The reality is the federal government is not going to be able to jump in here for 24 to 48 hours after an emergency situation, depending on what we need, so local officials have to get organized to deal with this,” said Betsy Weiner, Ph.D., senior associate dean for Educational Informatics.

Establishing a Medical Reserve Corps in Nashville will allow VUSN to recruit health care volunteers who are not currently working in an organized fashion.

“The soccer moms, retired physicians, this will give them a place,” said Weiner. “It also allows us to credential their ability and to authenticate what they can do if a disaster happens here in our community,” she added.

VUSN will now begin to develop a steering committee in conjunction with the Metro Health Department and Vanderbilt University Medical Center to decide how they will recruit, educate, and credential volunteers to be a part of the local Medical Reserve Corps. The federal funding will also allow VUSN to hire a part-time coordinator for the project.

Vanderbilt is the only medical center in Tennessee that has received this federal funding. The Memphis/Shelby County Health Department is the only other recipient in the state.