MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – Two Tinker Air Force Reservist nurses departed for New Jersey earlier this week to provide medical treatment to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
507th Medical Squadron nurses Lt. Col. Esther Mitchell and Maj. Lisa Morris will join more than 120 other Air Force Reserve medical personnel to support ongoing medical operations at New York City’s Javits Center and surrounding areas.
They departed for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurt, New Jersey, on April 13 and April 15.
Mitchell, chief nurse in the 507th MDS, said she previously deployed during Operation Desert Storm as an aircraft mechanic and that she is looking forward to her first deployment as nurse.
“We are going to help everybody that needs help,” Mitchell said. “The nurses and doctors on the front lines are overtired and overworked, and we are on the way to provide them some much needed assistance.”
Morris currently serves as the officer in charge of infection control, and says she will bring comfort to the patients she will treat.
“Wherever I’m at, I will provide excellent care,” Morris said. “I hope to shed some kindness and love along the way. The mask may cover my smile, but my hope is to care for patients by my touch and kindness from my heart.”
Col. Alvin Bradford, commander, 507th Medical Squadron, expressed his admiration for Mitchell, Morris and the other medical personnel who have teamed up to support Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They have answered a call that so many brave healthcare workers have answered,” Bradford said. “They are among the brightest of the 507th ARW, and the medical squadron is proud of them.”
Air Force Reserve Command’s surgeon general, Col. Teresa Bisnett, and her team of medical specialists took care to ensure the mobilized medical practitioners were not already serving in the local community’s fight against the pandemic before deploying them to the east coast.
“We did not want to pull a doc or nurse out of their community clinical practice or hospital if already ensconced in coronavirus operations,” Bisnett said. “It was truly a team effort with our units to ensure the right Reservists were selected to provide this surge capability to our nation,” Bisnett said.
All Reservists deploying were also medically screened according to DoD and the Centers for Disease Control guidance.
As COVID-19 response requirements for more medical personnel, aeromedical evacuation capabilities, logistics experts and other specialties grew, the Air Force Reserve was granted the authority to activate the inactive Reserve, as needed, by the president’s March 27 executive order.