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University of Minnesota Medical Reserve Corps set to deploy to hurricane area

Published on September 2, 2005

Volunteers from the 539-member University of Minnesota Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) are on standby awaiting specific instructions on how they can help victims in New Orleans and in other Gulf regions hit by Hurricane Katrina.

"We need to know exactly what they need," says Jill DeBoer, director of the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center's Emergency Preparedness Program that oversees the MRC. "Do they need a pharmacist or an epidemiologist?"

The MRC was formed two years ago to assist the state and nation in the event of a public health crisis or natural disaster. Its volunteer team is made up of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, epidemiologists, other health professionals, and students from the University's Academic Health Center.

If you wish to contribute to relief efforts, you may contact the following organizations:

FEMA
Minnesota Helps Fund
American Red Cross
Second Harvest
Noah's Wish (to help animals)
Catholic Charities
United Methodist Committee on Relief
Operation Blessing
Salvation Army

The MRC effort is just one way the University is offering to help hurricane victims. On Thursday, the University's Twin Cities campus announced an emergency admissions policy to allow qualified students who were enrolled at colleges or universities affected by the hurricane to attend the University as early as this fall if they applied by Friday, Sept. 2. The University of Minnesota, Crookston is accepting such qualified students through Sept. 13. As of Sept. 2, the University's Twin Cities campus had received about 25 inquiries from affected students.

Although the situation is changing rapidly, DeBoer says she anticipates three types of deployment requests to help the hurricane-relief effort:

The deployments will likely be for two weeks for those AHC volunteers who are willing and able to endure the heat, lack of electricity, inadequate housing, and other hardships in the affected areas.

DeBoer said she is currently assessing the qualifications of the volunteer applicants, who must seek approval from their respective supervisors before signing on for the relief effort. It's anticipated that volunteer AHC faculty, staff and students will be paid during their two-week deployment.