Air Force and Army military medical personnel, including doctors, nurses, and respiratory technicians have had ‘boots on the ground’ at Community Medical Centers for a little over a month.
Soldiers from the U.S. Army North’s Task Force-51 deployed from California’s Travis Air Force Base in support of the continued Department of Defense COVID-19 response operations in order to help communities in need.
“We were operating all of the operating room machinery like ventilators and drips, giving medications and providing the best care that we can to these patients.”–1st Lt. Dylan McGuire, Critical Care Nurse
Hospital officials say the personnel arrived just in time.
“As you know, COVID really knows no boundaries and it’s taken out a number of our staff for personal reasons or for family illness and we really needed help to fill those gaps in our workforce,” says Dr. Jeffrey L. Thomas, Community Medical Centers Chief Medical and Quality Officer.
On January 4, the day the military personnel arrived, Community Medical Centers had 385 staff members on leave either with COVID-19 or self quarantining because of exposure to someone with the virus outside of the hospital.
As the team prepares to end its assignment sometime in mid-February, patient loads have shown dramatic improvement.
As of February 1, only 89 CMC staffers were out with either COVID-19 or in self quarantine.
Similar medical teams helped CMC over six weeks during the summer COVID surge and were given a hero’s sendoff on September 11.
A snapshot of the impact COVID-19 is having on our hospital system as of 02/01/21.
This dashboard is updated three times per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) by 10 a.m.
— Community Medical (@CommunityMed) February 1, 2021
Military Critical Care Nurse Perspective
Critical Care Nurse and 1st Lt. Dylan McGuire says he and his team hit the ground running from the first day they arrived.
“We were integrated with the hospital nursing staff. I was in the ICU and we were all working a normal nursing schedule of 12 hour shifts,” said McGuire. “We were in the rooms doing patient care. We were operating all of the operating room machinery like ventilators and drips, giving medications and providing the best care that we can to these patients.”
McGuire says when he first arrived it was obvious the nursing staff was incredibly tired and worn out. “They were very appreciative that we were here to help them.”
McGuire describes the balancing act he must play as a member of not only the military, but being a nurse in the military.
“You have your healthcare professional side of the job, but you also have to tend to your military duties and make sure you’re ready to go at a moment’s notice,” describes McGuire. “You’re up to date on all of your trainings and you’re ready to go out the door.”