This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, and has been designated as the Year of the Nurse by the World Health Organization. The theme is “integrating for excellence,” and it could not have fit a better year.
U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers with the 352nd Combat Support Hospital in Mountain View, Calif. were told March 30 to report in 72 hours for a mission. No other information was given. They had three days to gather all their equipment and say goodbye to their families for an indefinite amount of time. The Soldiers would later find out that they were deploying to augment critically manned hospitals in the Philadelphia area in support of the Department of Defense's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is being led by U.S. Northern Command.
U.S. Army Capt. Jody Reid, a medical-surgical nurse assigned to the Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force 352-1, arrived in Philadelphia on April 19. Reid has been assisting at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia for the past three weeks.
The UAMTF is an integral part of the approximately 8,000 service members from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force, including active duty and reserve component service members, in the U.S. Army North-led Joint Forces Land Component Command who are assisting state and local governments across the continental United States in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Reid is a single mother of a 15-year-old daughter and has been a member of the Reserve for 13 years. She is no stranger to rapidly deploying and has been on three mobilizations and one active reserve deployment throughout her career. Now, a long way from California, she has been integrated into the frontlines combating COVID-19 in one of the most heavily affected regions in the United States.
“This is why I joined the Reserve; it’s a volunteer force and I volunteer my service,” Reid said. “My family supports me in my career and has adjusted to the flexibility needed in a military family. My daughter is currently with my mother who flew out to California to make sure her grand baby was taken care of.”
Regardless of the intensity of the situation at hand, Reid maintains a smile that could light up a room and exudes positivity and motivation.
“I’m happy to be here helping out at Einstein Medical Center. This is what I have been training for the last 10 years to do. To step in when help is needed, no matter the situation.”
Reid admits that she is normally more accustomed to floods, tornados or hurricanes. Fighting a pandemic was not something she anticipated she said. However, nurses leading the charge into the unknown and providing lifesaving care is nothing new.
Since the American Revolution, military nurses have served their country. Nurses have provided unique contributions to military medicine during peacetime and conflict. Today, nurses are caring for the people of the Military Health System, helping tie together uninterrupted levels of service and health care for beneficiaries – while keeping military personnel ready to defend the nation and its interests.
When not activated for the Reserve, Reid has a full plate of responsibility back at home. She is a full-time mother, full-time employee and a student attending United States University in San Diego, Calif. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing, for the Family Nurse Practice program. As a civilian, she works as a Patient Safety Manager for Presidio of Monterey Army Health Clinic in Monterey, Calif.
While Reid has plenty of experience in responding to the nation’s call, many of the Soldiers she deployed with were fresh out of Advanced Individual Training and are extremely new in the medical field. Prior to leaving Camp Parks, Calif., Reid and other leaders in her unit took the time to retrain these newer soldiers and prepare them as best as possible for the daunting situation ahead, she said.
U.S. Army Spc. Kayfia Gordon worked with Capt. Reid for over eight years when Reid was the medic for the 841st Engineer Battalion. She remembers Reid as a great friend and exceptional leader.
“I enjoyed working with Capt. Reid,” Gordon said. “What stuck out most to me was how much she cares about the Soldiers and was willing to help achieve their goals, whether it be within military or civilian life.” Reid was always selfless and put her Soldiers' needs above her own, Gordon said.
A similar sentiment was echoed by U.S. Army Spc. Aschia Dina Florvilus, who worked with Reid at the 411th Hospital Center in Jacksonville, Florida.
“Her drive inspired me to go beyond what I thought I could do, to challenge myself and reach new heights. I can proudly say that Capt. Reid is one of my biggest supporters, she has been an amazing mentor and role model,.” Florvilus said. “One of the best quotes I’ve heard is ‘A leader is only great when they have created more leaders,’ and that is exactly what Capt. Reid does.”
In the Army it is commonly said that the NCO’s are the backbone of the force. They lead by example and are the driving factor for completing a mission successfully. Nurses have a similar role in the hospital setting. They are relied on heavily for their manpower and are responsible for keeping patients comfortable and hopeful during their time at the hospital.
Nurses like Reid are critical during health crises. Even now, as the nation fights against a pandemic, nurses answer the call to serve and act as a final line of defense against COVID-19.