FORT BENNING, GA. – “I volunteered for the COVID Vaccine Drive-Thru,” said Capt. Leonardo Bermudez. “Sgt. 1st Class [Valerie] Via and I were usually the first ones to show up and the last ones to leave. It was a lot of work, a lot of long days, but it was fun.”
“I was in charge of mixing the vaccines,” explained the Tampa, Fla. native. “The hardest part, especially at the very beginning, was making sure I mixed it properly. Also that toward the end of the day, ensuring we would have enough so we didn’t waste any vaccines.
“We never had any issues as far as having to waste vaccines because we mixed them.”
Bermudez admitted during the busiest days he would need help prepping the syringes, due to the sheer volume of vaccinations the medics were administering.
“I was a pharmacy tech when I was enlisted. So it kind of reminded me of being a pharmacy tech. I was just mixing medications, just like making IVs.”
Now that the demand for vaccinations has waned, Martin Army Community Hospital is moving the operations into BMACH’s Department of Primary Care. The drive-thru closes June 18 and Bermudez will transition to the Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU), next month.
“I will be a nurse case manager at the SRU,” said Bermudez. “I’m most looking forward to helping the Soldiers get ready; either if they have to be medically discharged or helping them get back into the fight.”
Bermudez started as a floor nurse in Inpatient Behavioral Health when he first pcs’d to Fort Benning from San Antonio in July 2017.
“It’s a field I had never experienced. I’m glad I took the challenge,” said the 66H, medical-surgical nurse. “Working in the unit taught me to be a little more patient in a way; be able to listen to patients’ needs.
“It was nice to see patients who were having an episode and then to see how after being there for 2-3 days sometimes a week or more, to see how they recover. And then seeing them in the hallways saying that they are taking care of themselves.”
After two years, he became the clinical nurse officer in charge (CNOIC) of the Department of Surgery clinics. Bermudez oversaw prepping of procedures for various clinics such as urology, ophthalmology, orthopedics and general surgery. It wasn’t face to face patient care, something he is looking forward to getting back into at the SRU.