Missouri looks to bolster medical disaster assistance team to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak

Published: Apr. 6, 2020 at 8:53 PM CDT
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Missouri is asking retired medical professionals to sign up to help out current healthcare workers, if needed.

Saturday, Governor Mike Parson made the announcement, calling on any and all willing medical professionals, not currently employed to join the Missouri Disaster Medical Assistance Team.

Officials with the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) said that this group isn't new. But the recruitment effort is.

"We are calling all available medical professionals to join this team and support the fight against COVID-19," said Parson.

Missouri is one of just a handful of states to have an active medical disaster assistance team. SEMA is hoping to add to the team of about 200 medical professionals.

"We're dealing with an emergency that we've never dealt with before. We really want to make sure we're prepared to respond," said Caty Leubbert, Public Information Officer with SEMA.

The team usually responds to natural disasters but is preparing to tackle a different type of emergency.

"I think that when you're talking about a flood or a tornado it's a localized area versus COVID-19. Not only is it effecting the entire state but the entire nation. That need for medical professionals is important and we want to be prepared now," she said.

The team is made up of advanced clinicians, registered nurses, respiratory therapists, even pharmacists to name a few.

"They're used to working in the medical field. That's something that they're trained to do. This is no different than responding to those sorts of injuries. It's just preparing. You're not seeing that physical damage but it's still happening across the state," said Leubbert.

Personnel is deployed to hospitals or disaster centers across the state.

She said, "We're constantly working with our local, state and federal agencies on supporting the COVID-19 response. We hope to continue coordinating and supporting those local communities as requests come in."

"By providing care in high need areas you efforts can help and save the lives of fellow Missourians," said Parson.

This is a paid volunteer position.

The state has received nearly a thousand applications.

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