U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Jagger, Rural Rapid Response Team Leader and a critical care nurse, reviews patient charts while working in the COVID-19 ward at the Northern Navajo Medical Center, Shiprock, N.M., Dec. 23, 2020. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible U.S. Department of Defense support to the whole-of-America COVID-19 response. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ashunteia Smith)
U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Jagger, Rural Rapid Response Team Leader and a critical care nurse, reviews patient charts while working in the COVID-19 ward at the Northern Navajo Medical Center, Shiprock, N.M., Dec. 23, 2020. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible U.S. Department of Defense support to the whole-of-America COVID-19 response. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ashunteia Smith) (Photo Credit: Spc. Ashunteia Smith) VIEW ORIGINAL

SHIPROCK, New Mexico -- Approximately 12 U.S. Navy personnel, deployed to Navajo Nation in New Mexico and Arizona as a part of the Department of Defense COVID-19 response operations, are providing support at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, New Mexico. At the request of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Indian Health Service, the medical personnel have been working side-by-side with civilian and U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps health care providers to help treat COVID-19 patients.

“The relationship with the embedded nursing staff here has been great from the get go,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Jagger, critical care nurse and Rural Rapid Response team leader.

“They are family now,” said U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Lt. Cmdr. Scott Smith, the hospital's intensive care unit supervisor.

U.S. Navy Lt. j.g Dylan Maxwell, a critical care nurse with the Rural Rapid Response Team, adjusts a blood pressure cuff on a patient while working in the COVID-19 ward at the Northern Navajo Medical Center, Shiprock, N.M., Dec. 23, 2020.  U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible U.S. Department of Defense support to the whole-of-America COVID-19 response. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ashunteia Smith)
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Navy Lt. j.g Dylan Maxwell, a critical care nurse with the Rural Rapid Response Team, adjusts a blood pressure cuff on a patient while working in the COVID-19 ward at the Northern Navajo Medical Center, Shiprock, N.M., Dec. 23, 2020. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible U.S. Department of Defense support to the whole-of-America COVID-19 response. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ashunteia Smith) (Photo Credit: Spc. Ashunteia Smith) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Navy Lt. Kathryn Hrezo, a critical care nurse with the Rural Rapid Response Team, checks a patient’s blood sugar level, while working in the COVID-19 ward at the Northern Navajo Medical Center, Shiprock, N.M., Dec. 31, 2020. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible U.S. Department of Defense support to the whole-of-America COVID-19 response. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ashunteia Smith)
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Navy Lt. Kathryn Hrezo, a critical care nurse with the Rural Rapid Response Team, checks a patient’s blood sugar level, while working in the COVID-19 ward at the Northern Navajo Medical Center, Shiprock, N.M., Dec. 31, 2020. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible U.S. Department of Defense support to the whole-of-America COVID-19 response. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ashunteia Smith) (Photo Credit: Spc. Ashunteia Smith) VIEW ORIGINAL

The medical providers are currently treating up to eight patients at one time in the COVID-19 positive ward at the medical center. The ward is set up into an open room with beds alongside each other. As the pandemic progresses the medical center is considering expanding the ward, allowing the providers to treat up to 15 patients at once.

“Bringing in that staff gave us the capability of doubling our bed capacity for the intensive care unit,” said Smith.
U.S. Navy Lt. Kathryn Hrezo, a critical care nurse with the Rural Rapid Response Team, prepares to checks patients’ blood sugar levels, while working in the COVID-19 ward at the Northern Navajo Medical Center, Shiprock, N.M., Jan. 2, 2021.  U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible U.S. Department of Defense support to the whole-of-America COVID-19 response. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ashunteia Smith)
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Navy Lt. Kathryn Hrezo, a critical care nurse with the Rural Rapid Response Team, prepares to checks patients’ blood sugar levels, while working in the COVID-19 ward at the Northern Navajo Medical Center, Shiprock, N.M., Jan. 2, 2021. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible U.S. Department of Defense support to the whole-of-America COVID-19 response. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ashunteia Smith) (Photo Credit: Spc. Ashunteia Smith) VIEW ORIGINAL
U.S. Navy Lt. Codi Kelly, a critical care nurse with the Rural Rapid Response Team, cares for a patient while working in the COVID-19 ward at the Northern Navajo Medical Center, Shiprock, N.M., Dec. 31, 2020.  U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible U.S. Department of Defense support to the whole-of-America COVID-19 response. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ashunteia Smith)
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Navy Lt. Codi Kelly, a critical care nurse with the Rural Rapid Response Team, cares for a patient while working in the COVID-19 ward at the Northern Navajo Medical Center, Shiprock, N.M., Dec. 31, 2020. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible U.S. Department of Defense support to the whole-of-America COVID-19 response. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ashunteia Smith) (Photo Credit: Spc. Ashunteia Smith) VIEW ORIGINAL

For some of the medical providers it is not their first time being part of the Department of Defense whole-of-America COVID-19 response. Jagger and other members of the Rural Rapid Response teams provided support at different hospitals in New York when the pandemic first started, as well as in Texas as the pandemic continued.

“Thankfully we are seeing better outcomes than we did when COVID first hit,” said Jagger.

Due to some of their previous experiences, the medical providers were able to quickly adapt to their surroundings.

“They were boots on the ground ready to go and they’ve been wonderful to work with,” said Smith.

The IHS, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives who belong to 574 federally recognized tribes in 37 states.

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses throughout the country, U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, remains committed to providing flexible Department of Defense in support of the whole-of-America COVID-19 response.