WEST WINDSOR, NJ – When Mercer County Community College Director of Nursing Elizabeth Mizerek found out that the COVID-19 pandemic would impact her community, she immediately sprang into action to help.  Mizerek is a member of the Mercer County Medical Reserve Corps (MCMRC), an organization that enlists licensed healthcare professionals (and retirees) to assist during times of medical crisis. 

“Today [Tuesday, April 1] I was volunteering at the COVID test site, assisting with specimen collection,” Mizerek said. “The process is very controlled to minimize the risk of exposure. I worked with nurses from local hospitals who were in full biohazard protection suits to assist them with collecting and processing the specimens.”

Mercer County operated a drive-thru coronavirus testing site in the parking lot of the now-shuttered Quakerbridge Mall in Lawrence Township.

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Mizerek, a resident of New Egypt in Burlington Township, noted that in addition to medical professionals jumping to action, Mercer students have been very eager to help mitigate the pandemic.  In 2018, as part of the MCMRC, she led a training for students, faculty and staff.  

Despite gloomy projections that estimate the potential strain on the U.S. healthcare system, Mizerek is confident that the coronavirus pandemic will serve to improve medical care in the long run.“Our students receive information about emergency preparedness as part of the nursing education program,” Mizerek said.  “This experience will assist us in preparing the next generation of healthcare providers, prepared to response to any emergency.”

Some volunteer opportunities include staffing the county’s call center by contacting residents whose doctors submitted prescriptions for testing, as well as helping out at the drive-thru testing site with data entry, as check point staff, and as specimen handlers.

Mizerek also reminded New Jerseyans to take the “shelter in place” directives seriously.

“Limiting the number of people exposed to COVID will assist us in managing this pandemic without overwhelming the healthcare system,” Mizerek said.

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