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Personnel from the United States Air Force and Connecticut Army National Guard are helping to care for COVID-19 patients at YNHH’s Saint Raphael Campus.   

Military personnel help YNHH staff care for COVID-19 patients 

On Feb. 7, 21 military personnel in camouflage filed into Yale New Haven Hospital’s Saint Raphael Campus Cronin Auditorium for a briefing and orientation. 

Soon after, they donned YNHH scrubs and reported to various units at the SRC to help employees stretched to their limits from caring for a recent surge in COVID-19 patients. 

The team includes United States Air Force medical personnel – nurses, medics, physicians and respiratory therapists – from Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, along with one Air Force and one Connecticut Army National Guard liaison. They will be at YNHH until March 12 as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) effort coordinated with the U.S. Department of Defense and Connecticut Army National Guard.

YNHH leaders worked with the Connecticut Hospital Association and FEMA in January to research staffing assistance on nursing units contending with a surge in COVID-19 patients. Capacity and staff shortages made it difficult for YNHH to care for these patients, and prompted the hospital to carefully evaluate which type of COVID-19 patients to accept from community hospitals. YNHH continued to accept appropriate COVID-19 referrals from all other YNHHS delivery network hospitals.

“The addition of these military clinicians will provide some much-needed relief for our physicians and staff members,” said Mark Sevilla, RN, vice president of Behavioral Health and Emergency Services at YNHH. “It also allows us to begin accepting appropriate-level COVID patients from community partners, ensuring that these patients receive the outstanding care we have provided throughout the pandemic.”

The military support team had an immediate impact on the units where they were assigned. 

“The extra support from the Air Force nurses gives us the opportunity to provide even more supportive care to all of our patients,” said Stephanie Doyle, RN, patient services manager, SLA 3/Celentano 2. “The presence of the team demonstrates to our staff that many people understand and appreciate the efforts of all our healthcare workers. We can’t thank them enough!” 

“We thank these military personnel, for their service to our nation and their efforts on behalf of our patients,” said YNHH President Keith Churchwell, MD. “We appreciate that they have left their loved ones, as well as the comfort and familiarity of their normal clinical settings, to work with us.”