CLARKSVILLE, IN (February, 8, 2024) – The COVID-19 epidemic was one of the most challenging times in U.S. history. According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 1.2 million people died in the United States as a result of the virus, and another 7 million people were hospitalized. One of the things that helped us get through the epidemic here in Clark County was the outpouring of support from local volunteers.
During Tuesday night’s Clarksville Town Council meeting, representatives from the Clark County Health Department issued a new call for help from the local community. They say although the COVID-19 public health emergency has ended, volunteers are still needed to assist with other health related programs and service.
“We are really trying to revitalize our volunteer program at the Clark County Health Department.”
Johanna Polk is the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the department. She says the department is part of what is known as the ‘Medical Reserve Corps.’, and has been since 2010. It is a group of medical and non-medical volunteers who are registered to help ahead of time in the event of a medical crisis.
“They helped with the HIV response during the 2015 Scott County HIV Outbreak, and a lot of them worked with the Zika virus collecting mosquitoes for study,” said Polk. “Most recently they assisted with for our COVID-19 response.”
Polk says having enough volunteers is vital to the Clark County Health Department in order to continue to offer current services and programs. They will also be needed for the next emergency, whatever that may be. When there isn’t a health crisis, Polk says volunteers can help with a variety of tasks such as moving bottled waters into homeless shelters or moving large amounts of food off of trucks into local food banks. She says they need non-medical volunteers as much as the need medically trained volunteers.
“We had a lot of nurses that came forward to give vaccines during the COVID-19 epidemic, but we also needed a lot of people to do registration, help with parking, and serve as greeters. Some people even just came to talk to people and help make them comfortable while waiting to get their vaccine.”
To volunteer with the Clark County Health Department, residents must register through the State of Indiana’s SERVE-IN.org website. SERV-IN is an acronym for State Emergency Registry of Volunteers for Indiana. By registering through the site, Polk says volunteers will be covered under the state’s liability insurance. Once registered, SERVE-IN will send the volunteer’s information to the Clark County Health Department. This information will tell the department what you want to do, what you don’t want to do, and how often you are willing to volunteer. Polk says the department does not have a minimum requirement for volunteers and that they will take whatever they can get. Volunteers will then receive training on things such as First Aid, CPR, and other relevant topics.
Clarksville Town Councilwoman Jennifer Voignier commended Polk on the great work her department is doing in the community.
“I do want to say you all do a fabulous job, especially with your volunteers,” said Voignier. “I volunteered to help with COVID and it was very interesting. It opens your eyes to what the Clark County Health Department actually does and what goes on behind the scenes.”
While addressing the Town Council, Polk also wanted to get the word out about various training courses the department offers to anyone in the community such as private businesses or community organizations. Those training courses include: Stop the Bleed Training, Safe Sleep Program, DOSE Training, Narcan Training, and a Car Seat Safety team to show residents how to properly install infant car seats.
To learn more about the Clark County Health Department or ask questions about volunteering, visit their website at clarkhealth.net, or call (812) 282-7521. Office hours are Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm. They are closed on weekends.