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NEWS | May 12, 2021

The importance of nursing to the health of the fighting force

By Ann Krebs

National Nurses Week began May 6 and is celebrated through May 12.  This year, more than ever it is important to recognize nurses, but on a whole different level. 

You can’t underestimate the importance of nursing to the health of the fighting force. 

Nurses’ Week trails behind the one year mark of COVID-19 and has many nurses, like Captain Sara Dunn, a 66H (Medical Surgical Nurse) at Winn Army Community Hospital, reflecting on her experiences during the pandemic. Captain Dunn had the privilege in joining the 101st Airborne Division to vaccinate the citizens of Florida as part of the COVID 19 Vaccine Teams.

During the COVID-19 fight Regional Health Command – Atlantic (RHC-A) sent 77 Nursing Personnel (66H) from 9 Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) to serve in a ‘Prepare to Deploy Order’ (PTDO) status.  This means they had 96 hours or less to respond to a movement order when tasked. 

As of May 4th, 57 of the 77 personnel were deployed as part of the COVID-19 Vaccine Teams to the following locations:  Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Miami, FL; Orlando, FL; Cleveland, OH; Atlanta, GA; Yakima, WA; Milwaukee, WI; Pueblo, CO; and Henderson, KY. 

Captain Dunn was very familiar with the benefits of vaccinations and the weight they hold for our nation during this Pandemic.  She recognized that being a part of this mission was an amazing opportunity to educate not only the citizens of Florida but also the Soldiers within her new ranks.

“We supported these national missions while maintaining hospital operations and COVID-19 Vaccine missions at our own installations.”

During this 2.5 month mission, Captain Dunn became even more proud to be a nurse but especially an Army Nurse.

“I am very grateful that I was able to be a part of the solution to this deadly disease.  “I was blessed with a group of MEDCOM RNs who came together as if we had been working together our whole careers.”

“We were able to strategically work together to accomplish the mission as well as share stories about our experiences over the past year.  I am coming out of this mission knowing we contributed to the health of our nation.”

As members of the U.S. Army health care team RHC-A nurses do what they do best — use their professional skills to provide a full spectrum of patient care. This expert care is provide in facilities that are second to none, using equipment and procedures that are often more advanced than their private-sector counterparts.

Captain Jennifer Kroll, a Clinical Staff Nurse, assigned to Blanchfield Army Community Hospital deployed as part of the COVID-19 Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force (UAMTF).  These USMTF personnel embedded within the civilian ICU community to conduct healthcare delivery when COVID admissions and rates continued to escalate. The UAMTF support was part of a global operational readiness initiative to support the national effort in combatting COVID-19.

This past year, RHC-A deployed 27 Nursing Personnel (66H, 66S, 66T, 66C) to Madison, WI and Houston, TX in support of the UAMTF mission.

Captain Kroll says her time deployed with the UAMTS was very rewarding, “Our mission to Wisconsin was over the holiday season which was hard at first, but our group was very supportive and cohesive which made for a great experience. The community of Marshfield was inviting and gracious- they provided us with ‘extended stay’ hotel supplies and presented us with gifts on Christmas eve.”

“The experience was rewarding and enlightening, especially since I had never worked in a civilian medical facility as an RN before. In many ways it made me extremely grateful for my current job. The mission provided a whole new perspective on what so many health care workers have selflessly done (and continue to do) in the midst of the COVID- 19 pandemic.


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