“Military runs in my blood. My dad is a 20-plus year retired U.S. Navy veteran, and I am a full-time Navy reservist. I work at the Memphis VA Medical Center, where the anesthesia department is integral to the COVID airway team. The team secures the airway and inserts any additionally needed access, such as arterial and central lines. My first military mobilization happened in a completely different environment, however. In March, I served aboard the USNS Mercy in response to emergency need by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In addition to my first mobilization, this was also my first time on a ship! The Mercy is a huge, 1,000-bed hospital ship that was dispatched to Los Angeles to provide relief for hospitals hit hard by the pandemic. Mercy’s sister ship, the USNS Comfort, was simultaneously deployed to New York.
“While docked in Los Angeles, the USNS Mercy took on the healthy-patient offload from overloaded hospitals, which opened beds on land for COVID-positive patients and kept the COVID-negative patients out of the COVID hospitals. During my two months onboard, I provided anesthesia for a wide variety of operative procedures such as a pacemaker, orthopedics, plastic surgery, and lap choles. I also provided care for the homeless population. While the ship was never full—we averaged 70 to 80 patients at any given time—it freed up much-needed beds for COVID patients.
“I am proud that I serve my country as a CRNA. The thing I love most about what I do is gaining the trust of my patients in a short, 10-15-minute timeframe. Gaining that amount of trust is hard for any provider to do, but I pride myself on my ability to do it in anesthesia.
“Ultimately, I am pleased knowing that my role onboard the USNS Mercy helped save lives in Los Angeles hospitals during the pandemic.”