SHU's Medical Reserve Corps Receives $50K Grant

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Sacred Heart University’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) has received a $50,000 grant from the National Association of County and City Health Officials through their Respond Sustain Innovate and Equip (RISE) Award. This funding will support the MRC’s Interdisciplinary Approach to Emergency Preparedness Program.

The MRC is co-directed by Sofia Pendley, assistant professor of public health in the College of Health Professions and Angela Chlebowski and Norm Weller, both clinical assistant professors of nursing in the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing.

The Sacred Heart University MRC is the only one in Connecticut that is based at a university. “This puts our MRC in a unique position to support the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security regionally,” Pendley said. 

The grant will provide resources to prioritize building capacity for the SHU MRC so that they are able to respond with innovative measures and a sustained volunteer corps. 

The SHU MRC has more than 180 volunteers. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, they supported COVID-19 testing efforts on campus in Fairfield and in Stamford and Norwalk. They also were active in providing medical and non-medical support to COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Bridgeport, Trumbull, Monroe and Fairfield, and they dedicated around 1,700 hours of volunteer service at the height of the pandemic.  

Many SHU MRC volunteers are students who are interested in pursuing careers in health or emergency management. “Currently, there is no interdisciplinary course offered on campus that addresses both emergency management and first responder skills and topics. This funding seeks to increase the University’s MRC capacity to respond to all hazard emergencies, as well as increase the corps’ sustainability by creating a pipeline of trained volunteers,” said Pendley. 

This will be accomplished by developing an interdisciplinary course that enables students to simultaneously affiliate with the MRC, improve their emergency response skills with targeted training and earn credit toward graduation. “Increasing awareness and teaching the skills needed during such an event will assist our MRC in developing and supporting more MRC members and strengthening our wonderful group of volunteers here at SHU,” Chlebowski said. 

Visit the SHU MRC webpage to learn more.  


About Sacred Heart University

As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing private doctoral institutions in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers nearly 90 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has a campus in Dingle, Ireland, and offers online programs. More than 10,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Social Work; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education & Human Development; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 388 Colleges–2023 Edition, and Best Business Schools–2022 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliated radio station, WSHU, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theatre.

Submitted by Fairfield, CT

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