Military medical team supports hospital in Oklahoma City

  • Published
  • By Spc. Summer Keiser
  • Defense Department Support to FEMA COVID-19
In response to a request for assistance, Air Force medical personnel recently deployed to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to support INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center. This support is part of a larger response led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency assisting hospitals across the United States.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Leah Godwin, a Woodstock, Georgia, native and the officer-in-charge of an Air Force medical team in Oklahoma City, deployed in early February to assist staff at INTEGRIS.

“The [Department of Defense] medical staff has been called to serve within communities across the United States,” said Godwin. “We joined the military to serve and will go where we are most needed. We also feel honored to work with the INTEGRIS staff to care for Oklahomans.”

The Airmen at INTEGRIS work in normal scrubs and look just like their civilian counterparts. They have integrated into emergency rooms, intensive care units and various other departments throughout the hospital and attend to patients alongside INTEGRIS staff, helping ease the load for those staff members who are now two years into a pandemic.

“Unless our team shares with patients that they are part of the DoD, patients really wouldn’t know that they were being cared for by military providers,” explained Godwin. “We go to and from the hospital in civilian clothes and wear hospital scrubs just like the INTEGRIS team. This has been a seamless transition for the military.”

Already nearly three weeks into their mission, the Airmen and INTEGRIS nurses have been working side-by-side to ensure they can provide professional care to their patients.

“[I’m] excited to be able to serve on a mission that has a positive impact within the community, which is unique to military medicine,” said Godwin. “Typically, we deploy to overseas locations as medical staff, so being able to alleviate medical staffing burdens in the community is a unique opportunity for us.”

Godwin said that although she is sad to be away from her family and friends back home, she is thankful for their continued support as her team focuses on the mission in Oklahoma City.

For hospital staff at INTEGRIS, the support of these military medical providers can make a large difference in their workload.

“Before the service members arrived, staffing the hospital was chaotic to say the least,” said Haylee Smith, a Roland, Oklahoma, native and registered nurse working at INTEGRIS. “Prior to getting the help of the military, many of our shifts were covered because of our caregivers being willing [to] work overtime to help do their part in lightening the load.”

The Air Force is currently slated to stay and support the hospital for 30 days.

“The medical military presence is helping by taking patient loads to make caregiver-to-patient ratios more safe and manageable,” said Smith.

She said with the extra help from the military, INTEGRIS can provide higher quality and more timely care for hospital patients while also giving their nurses, who have routinely been working overtime, the opportunity to have a bit of a break.

“On behalf of all the healthcare workers in OKC, I would like to say thank you for coming to us in our time of need,” said Smith. “It has been a true pleasure and we are grateful for your service!”