Bracing for a different kind of battlefield, U.S. Army Reserve troops have been doing their parts to help civilian medical professionals in the fight against the pandemic COVID-19 coronavirus. To work with civilian hospital workers, 15 Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces were put together with Army Reserve medical professionals from around the country. These medical task forces were then dispatched to virus hotspots in the northeast and midwest regions of the U.S. to help homeland defense efforts in fighting against the COVID-19 coronavirus, which has essentially shut down the economy and the population of the country.
The expeditionary medical task forces, each comprising about 85 personnel capable of assisting with COVID-19 treatment in urban areas, are assisting with low-acuity medical care in step with U.S. Northern Command’s COVID-19 response in more than 20 hospitals in six states.
“We have a team in Detroit, MI, at the TCF Center; a team in Pennsylvania supporting five different hospitals and one alternate health care facility,” said Army Chief of Staff General James C. McConville. Medical task forces are also in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts; another has reported to the Stamford Hospital-Bennett Medical Center in Connecticut and is working out of a recommissioned building on the medical campus. “It’s one thing to go overseas and care for people in a deployed setting, but it’s another to care for sick and injured in my own country like this,” said Major Jim Burrow, a family nurse practitioner with the 811-1 Task Force in Stamford. Burrow compares it to a battlefield: “We’re in an environment where patients have passed away, and although the coronavirus has taken over, we’re trying to keep as many people alive as possible until the viral war ends.”
Burrow works as a palliative care nurse in his civilian capacity and is familiar with helping patients fighting for their lives in different environments. But fighting against an invisible enemy is new to him: “We’re not typically in a position to care for our own people like this,” Burrow explained. “But it’s also very humbling to care for Americans in their time of need. Even with so much suffering, the amount of support and outpouring of love has been phenomenal.”