More than 250 medical personnel from the 1st Medical Brigade’s 9th Hospital Center deployed March 25-28 from Robert Gray Army Airfield to New York City, to relieve the burden on the city’s healthcare system, by providing routine and emergency medical support.
In a joint task force made up of medical personnel from the Army and U.S. Public Health Service, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was converted into the Javits New York Medical Station, currently housing 1,200 beds, but with the space to accommodate nearly 3,000 beds. The medical station will allow hospitals to focus their efforts on COVID-19 patients.
“Although defense support of civil authorities is not our primary focus, it is a mission that we train for and have executed many times in the past, responding to natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods in the homeland,” Col. Robert Howe II, 1st Med. Bde. commander, said.
Less than 72 hours after Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy issued the deployment orders, the troops were already on the ground in New York. During that same timeframe, the 531st Hospital Center out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, joined the Fort Hood troops in New York, while the 627th Hospital Center out of Fort Carson, Colorado, deployed medical personnel to Seattle, Washington.
“Army health care professionals are adequately equipped with first-rate training, equipment and technology in order to deal with emergent health issues,” McCarthy said. “Protecting the health of the force and the American people are our top priorities.”
The 9th Hospital Center is a fully-operational field hospital designed and equipped will a full complement of medical capabilities. Howe said the field hospital includes intensive care capabilities, operating rooms, emergency care, X-ray equipment, labs and a pharmacy, sharing many of the same functions as a traditional civilian medical treatment facility.
“Our doctors, nurses and other health care professionals typically perform their day-to-day duties in military hospitals and clinics,” he said. “There, they provide comprehensive care not only to our Soldiers, but to our family members and retirees, so they have experience with the same types of patients that we expect to encounter in New York.”
Howe said the Silver Knights troops will work closely with New York City, state officials and federal interagency partners, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other Department of Defense elements supporting the effort. With several troops from the states of New York and Washington, the two states with military medical support, Soldiers were excited to be supporting the fight against COVID-19.
“Our Soldiers know that what they do matters, and that they serve in the most noble lifesaving profession,” Howe added. “There is no greater altruistic cause than a medical professional putting themselves at risk to save the life of a fellow American in their time of need.”
The commander said the Silver Knights leaders will continue to take all necessary precautions to ensure their Soldiers are protected during this pandemic and able to deploy wherever they are needed to help the fight against COVID-19. He said he is proud of the support he and his troops have received during this time, especially from the families under these stressful conditions.
“These actions speak volumes to a ready and capable force, supported by our larger Army and Silver Knight family. I want every one of our teammates to return home safely to their families, proud of their support to our fellow Americans in a time of incredible need,” Howe added. “The ultimate benchmark of our success will be ‘killing’ the virus and proudly representing our unit, the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command and all of our Phantom Warriors.”