U.S. Navy Helps Fight COVID-19 On Shore

Image courtesy USN

Published Jan 26, 2021 2:22 PM by Navy Live

[By Army Specialist Ashunteia Smith]

At the request of the Department of Health and Human Services, about 12 Navy medical personnel have deployed to the Navajo Nation reservation to support the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, New Mexico. The team has been working side-by-side with civilian and U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps health care providers to help treat COVID-19 patients.

"The relationship with the embedded nursing staff here has been great from the get go," Navy Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Jagger, critical care nurse and Rural Rapid Response team leader said. 

"They are family now," said Lt. Cmdr. Scott Smith (USN, USPHS), the hospital's intensive care unit supervisor. "Bringing in that staff gave us the capability of doubling our bed capacity for the intensive care unit."

The medical providers are currently treating up to eight patients at a time in the COVID-19 positive ward at the medical center. As the pandemic progresses, the medical center is considering expanding the ward, allowing the providers to treat up to 15 patients at once. 

Courtesy USN

For some of the medical providers, it is not their first time being part of the Defense Department's COVID-19 response. Jagger and other members of the Rural Rapid Response teams provided support at different hospitals in New York when the pandemic first started, as well as in Texas as the pandemic continued. 

"Thankfully, we are seeing better outcomes than we did when COVID-19 first hit," Jagger said. 

Due to some of their previous experiences, the medical providers were able to quickly adapt to their surroundings. "They were boots on the ground ready to go, and they've been wonderful to work with," Smith said. 

The Indian Health Service, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for about 2.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives who belong to 574 federally recognized tribes in 37 states.

This article appears courtesy of the DoD and is reproduced here in an abbreviated form. It may be found in its original form here.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.