Retired Nurses and Doctors Enlist to Help Fight Coronavirus

Retired medical professionals are showing up by the thousands to help out in hospitals, clinics, and call centers throughout the world.

Apr 6, 2020

Around the world, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are enlisting their services to treat the Coronavirus pandemic. Where there is a need, these courageous individuals are stepping up to the plate and offering their expertise in logistical, technical, or medical support.

 In fact, on a single day in March, 2020 1,000 private practice and retired doctors and nurses joined New York City’s Medical Reserve Corps, a program of the City’s Department of Health according to the New York Post, after the city’s Mayor Bill De Blasio asked for help.

The mayor also asked retired health care workers, credentialed medical students and healthcare workers from around the country to come help New York which has the largest outbreak in the US and there is a desperate shortage of workers.  

And they heeded the call. Doctors and nurses are flying in from all parts of the country to support hospitals that need it most. Katherine Ramos, for example, is a nurse from Cape Coral, Florida who flew into New York City as soon as she could to help out at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

 
 
 
 
 
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According to ABC News, at least 82,000 people have thus far enlisted in New York State’s medical reserve force, bringing together a wide range of health care workers and available gig-workers to assist wherever possible. Staffing agencies are also recruiting workers with high wages, food and lodging if they would work in the hot spots.

"Whatever it is that they need, I’m willing to do,” Jerry Kops, a New York nurse and musician in the world-famous Blue Man Group, whose tour got cancelled due to the outbreak told ABC. She explained that knowing that all of her old co-workers were on the front line encouraged her to sign up.

Jane Bedell, a retired primary care doctor from the Bronx, also signed up after De Blasio’s request for help. Although she celebrated retirement a little over a month ago, she felt it was her duty and privilege to get involved. 

“I’ve always wanted to make sure that I’m part of the solution and not part of the problem.” She told the New York Times. “I feel lucky that because I have a medical degree, I have a path to help out. It feels like a gift.”

Chuck Wright, a retired physician refused to let anything stop him from volunteering. After he retired a year and a half ago, he immediately started volunteering with medical organizations, and was among the responders who took care of California’s firefighters during the 2019 wildfires. He’s been deployed twice to assist Covid19 efforts, and was in charge of converting a Holiday Inn into a medical center. He said, “We came here and kind of started this from scratch.”

But New York is not alone, other states, such as California, Massachusetts, Washington, and New Jersey have also put out similar calls recruiting help.

Some states, like Illinois are making it easier for doctors and nurses to practice by allowing people to to renew expired medical licenses. further enabling thousands of people who want to contribute their time and skills in meaningful ways. There is even an online registration form for license renewal on The Block Club Chicago.

Retirees in Europe have also been returning to the medical profession to assist with the outbreak. Approximately 20,000 retired nurses and doctors from Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) have signed up to help on-site, in call centers, and in other critical ways according to ABC News International

“My uniform is clean, my shoes are polished and I am ready to go back,” 58-year-old Bev Vaughan told ABC News. She worked as a nurse for 39 successful years before she retired.

“Once you are a nurse, you are always a nurse,” said Vaughan. “You work in a very close-knit community. I just feel really privileged to be in a position where I am still registered as a nurse so I am in a position where I can fairly quickly go back.”  

UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson posted a video to social media thanking the incredible volunteers for their work. In the video he says: “Thank you, by the way, to everybody who is now coming back into the NHS in such huge numbers… it is the most amazing thing and that is, of course, in addition to the 750,000 members of the public who have volunteered to help us get through this crisis.”

The courage and commitment that hundreds of thousands of people have been showing this month is nothing short of astonishing. Many have left their families to join the frontline, putting aside their comfort, safety, and security to lend a helping hand where it is needed most. Their support is not unrecognized.

In fact, over the past several weeks, cities throughout the world have applauded the work of health care professionals by clapping, hitting pots and pans, and ringing bells. On behalf of everyone at Goodnet, we want to extend our most heartfelt gratitude to all the medical professionals, hospital staff, and volunteers who have joined the efforts to make our world safer.   

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HILLA BENZAKEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.