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ODU students respond to Governor's call for volunteers to fight COVID-19

Fifteen Old Dominion University students have registered as volunteers with the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps.

NORFOLK, Va. — As medical workers across the Commonwealth fight the COVID-19 pandemic, students and faculty at Old Dominion University have stepped in to provide some relief.

Pamela Edwards, a senior at ODU’S College of Health Sciences is one of the students who has chosen to volunteer with the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps.

Since last week, 15 ODU students have signed up as volunteers.

The rise in registered volunteers comes after Governor Ralph Northam announced a need for 30,000 medical and non-medical MRC volunteers in Virginia to fight COVID-19.

“I wanted to assist with the MRC, I’ve been really eager to do it and this one was the perfect opportunity,” said Edwards.

The Governor’s call for help came in response to an expected surge in demand at hospitals and long-term care facilities across the Commonwealth.

Already, half of the 30,000 volunteers needed have registered. Dr. Bonnie Van Lunen, Dean of ODU’s College of Health Sciences said so far, more than 15,000 medical and non-medical volunteers have signed up across the state.

“It’s really neat to see that we’re all reaching out to each other to help each other along the way,” said Van Lunen.

The MRC doesn’t require volunteers to have any skills. The MRC will find somewhere to place volunteers and provide them with training.

Dr. Muge Akpinar-Elci, a professor and chair at ODU’s College of Health Sciences has been working to help students register as volunteers.

“We are really so pleased and happy to work with the MRC because our students, especially public health students can’t find internship spots right now because of this crisis, but MRC is accepting our students and giving them the chance to practice,” said Akpinar-Elci.

Edwards said she’s willing to volunteer locally or go anywhere else in the country if she’s needed.

“I’m not afraid of doing it, I just love helping people,” said Edwards. “I’m grateful to say I have not had any personal loss due to COVID-19 but even if I did, that would even give me more eagerness to assist others.”

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