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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Puerto Rico MRC Unit Engages the Whole Community to Fight Zika

Author: LCDA Beatriz Quiñones Vallejo, MPR, APR, MPHE, CHES Volunteer Management Analyst/ Team Leader Puerto Rico MRC Coordinator
Published Date: 5/11/2016 3:00:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

As the threat of Zika looms, how do we reach the people in our communities with accurate health information that motivates them to act? The Puerto Rico Medical Reserve Corps (PR MRC) starts with partnerships.

The PRMRC is focusing on community education to help people understand how Zika virus could impact their health. By creating and leveraging partnerships within their community, PRMRC members are finding ways to deliver important health information to the community through messengers that it already trusts.

These trusted messengers include the PR MRC volunteers themselves. As part of the response, PR MRC volunteers have gone door to door, starting conversations on Zika. The visits were part of a pilot project to educate pregnant women, their families and neighbors to understand their needs and behaviors regarding the Zika Virus.

PR MRC volunteers are medical professionals who have been working in the community for years and they make great messengers as trusted health professionals. This is not the PR MRC’s first response to a mosquito borne threat. They have helped promote health in their community during outbreaks of chikungunya and dengue.

PRMRC Volunteers working together PRMRC Volunteer Briefing PRMRC Volunteer

But the PR MRC unit knew that it couldn’t get the word out on their own, so they partnered with people throughout their communities – like leaders in faith-based communities and public housing projects; nurses; faculty from the local universities; and more.

In times of stress, people often turn to leaders in their communities, and PR MRC volunteers are working to make sure that community leaders have the facts and are prepared to spread accurate information. PR MRC is working to integrate skill from throughout the community into a more effective response.

Through these partnerships, they are teaching people how to avoid getting infected and they are helping the community learn about vector control to prevent the spread of the disease.

By partnering with the whole community, the PR MRC unit can engage more people, train them more effectively, and increase participation. All of their partners have special skills and they touch the community in different ways.

This response has given many PR MRC volunteers an opportunity to make people healthier as part of the overall response to Zika – and many volunteers are extremely proud of the work that they are doing.

“As a nurse I thought that I was going to spend my life in a clinic scenario, but as an MRC member the contributions that I do for the community are incredible. I am part of the response, and this is very important. I now look at myself differently,” said Ricardo de Jesús, a PR MRC volunteer.

If you are a health or emergency management professional that is planning for Zika, contact your local MRC. MRC volunteers not only make great partners in public health response, but they also can help promote better overall health in your community every day.


Great article!

Great job Beatriz, keep the great work!
5/13/2016 12:43:32 PM

volunteer Physicians Assistant for PR

Dear Sir, I am a Physicians Assistant, certified nationally and licensed to practice in New York State. I have 35 years of clinical experience in Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics and 6 prior overseas placements (see attached resume). Do you think you could use someone like me in Puerto Rico I am available with 4 to 6 weeks notice for up to 2 months and would volunteer my services as a health care provider with experience treating HIV, Malaria, TB and acute diarrhea. Below is my current CV. Sincerely, Jon Jon Gootnick RPA-C
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Helping communities following disasters

In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, you may be wondering what you can do to help people in the wake of these disasters. Start by connecting with a trusted organization, like the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters. Cash is often best. If you are interested in volunteering to help people affected by the storms, there are several opportunities available to you. For more information visit:
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