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At a March 11 ceremony in the Saint Raphael Campus Cronin Auditorium, Yale New Haven Hospital thanked members of the military team who helped care for patients during the recent COVID-19 surge. YNHH President Keith Churchwell, MD, presented each team member with a Yale New Haven COVID-19 medallion, including U.S. Air Force Capt. Cody Willis. 

YNHH salutes military personnel for their assistance during latest COVID-19 surge

With heartfelt thanks (and a few jokes about New England weather), Yale New Haven Hospital said farewell to 22 military personnel who spent a month at the Saint Raphael Campus helping to care for patients during the recent COVID-19 surge.

“You are part of the Yale New Haven Hospital family, and we appreciate your service,” YNHH President Keith Churchwell, MD, said at a ceremony March 11 – fittingly, the last day of YNHH’s Week of Gratitude.

The team, which arrived Feb. 7, comprised United States Air Force nurses, medics, physicians and respiratory therapists from Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, along with three support staff from the Air Force and Connecticut Army National Guard. They provided assistance as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) effort coordinated with the U.S. Department of Defense and Connecticut Army National Guard. 

Members of the military team who spoke at the ceremony remarked on the warm welcome they received, camaraderie they felt with SRC physicians and staff and the inter-professional collaboration among care team members. 

“Your staff has been outstanding,” said Air Force Maj. Leah Williams. “You inspire us. You have set an example of perseverance, kindness and resilience.”

Williams said she also was impressed by Epic and the Mobile Heartbeat phones, which allowed her to perform a number of tasks while at the bedside.

Margaret O’Reilly, manager, Off-Shift Clinical Executive program, said staff and patient feedback about the military team members was “stellar.” Employees exhausted by caring for patients throughout the pandemic appreciated the over 3,000 clinical hours the military team provided during their assignment, she said.

“You will forever be part of our fabric,” O’Reilly told the team. “You will always be welcome.”

The SRC Medical Intensive Care Unit’s Patrizia Schaefer, RN, patient services manager (center), and Kate Paul, RN, assistant patient services manager, thanked Air Force Capt. Joseph Afreh for his assistance during the past month.

U.S. Army veteran Bolivar Baez, YNHH manager, Logistical Operations, presented YNHH veterans medallions to team members, including Air Force Maj. Leah Williams.