Virginians answer the call to volunteer in coronavirus hot spots

Positively Richmond

Early on in the pandemic, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam made a plea for health care volunteers and they sure answered the call.

Over 9,000 Virginians stepped up and volunteered for Virginia’s Medical Reserve Corps. 8News spoke to two area women who didn’t hesitate to help in coronavirus hot spots.

When the pandemic hit, nursing student Janeen McNeish didn’t think twice about the chance for some hands-on experience.

“It felt good to be a volunteer, to go in and just contribute just a little,” McNeish explained.

McNeish jumped right in at a long-term care facility that was short-staffed and battling a COVID-19 outbreak.

“I basically helped the nurses there on staff. To be in the capacity where I could do vitals and make sure the residents are OK that is, that’s nursing,” she said.

“I gave medicines, I checked blood sugars, I took vital signs,” Lisa Davey said describing her volunteer work.

Davey came out of retirement to help in a nursing home hot spot. She told 8News, “One night I just sat and just held a little lady’s hand and she was scared and she was crying.”

Davey admitted even some of her nursing friends thought she shouldn’t do it. They told her to stay home, stay safe.

“It was something I can do. It is what I am,” she said. “I’m a nurse and nurses were needed.”

State Volunteer Coordinator Jennifer Freeland told 8News volunteers have also been doing community testing, distributing masks and assisting with PPE. Davey has helped with contact tracing and McNeish has assisted with mask distribution and health screenings at Henrico Juvenile Court.

“I was working out of the court systems in which I would test those coming into the building to make sure that no one had any symptoms for COVID,” McNeish explained.

Freeland says it’s a great learning opportunity for any medical student, telling 8News that “Often what’s taught in the textbook is very different than what happens in the field of public health.”

McNeish couldn’t agree more.

“That’s something that will transcend nursing school and I will carry with me throughout my career as a nurse,” she said.

There’s no monetary compensation for the work that they do. It’s all out of the goodness of their hearts. You can learn more about volunteering online here.

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