BISMARCK, North Dakota - Approximately 60 U.S. Air Force nurses along with 20 U.S. Army Soldiers providing command and control and behavioral health and religious support, are supporting the efforts of the Department of Defense and the North Dakota Department of Health’s response to an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
The service members, part of Task Force Center commanded by U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, support the whole-of-America COVID-19 response by working alongside their civilian counterparts in the various hospitals to which they are assigned. The hospitals integrate the U.S. Air Force personnel into their staff and teams, as if they were part of the hospital’s own staff.
“It is difficult being away from home, especially during the holiday season,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Cassidy McEuen, a registered nurse with the 959th Medical Group, 59th Medical Wing, based out of Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. “But we know the need is here, and we want to help out as much as we can. I am really proud to be here to support the efforts in North Dakota.”
McEuen is working at Trinity Hospital-St. Joseph’s, in Minot, North Dakota. With active cases of COVID-19 reaching new highs, Trinity Hospital-St. Joseph is one of the hospitals in North Dakota that is receiving support from the Department of Defense, through the North Dakota Department of Health, for help in the COVID-19 fight.
“We are so thankful to have the support of these Soldiers and Airmen,” said Karen Zimmerman, registered nurse and Chief Nursing Officer at the hospital. “We need you, and America needs you.”
The service members are supporting six hospitals across North Dakota: Catholic Health Initiatives St. Alexius, Bismarck; Sanford Health Bismarck; Altru Health Systems, Grand Forks; Sanford Health Fargo; Trinity Hospital-St Joseph’s, Minot; and Essentia Health Fargo.
“We raised our right hand to support the fight; this may not be a war overseas, but this is our fight now,” said 1st Lt. Jonathan Castillo, a registered nurse who is also working at Trinity. “We are here to support the best we can, serving our community is one of the things we raised or hand to do, and I am proud to do so.”