Health Care workers honored by Department of Defense during COVID-19 operations
TACOMA, Wash. – As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the United States, and the world, hospitals found themselves on the forefront in the fight against COVID-19.
From suspending non-emergency surgeries, adding intensive care unit bed capacity, and developing Covid-19 units to isolate and treat patients with the virus while safeguarding the health of other patients and hospital staff, all of which required getting additional personal protective equipment, ventilators and therapeutic medications.
At the same time hospitals were dealing with the pandemic, the Department of Defense also responded to the pandemic, which included one of the largest domestic mobilization of Reserve forces in history that included calling up Reserve medical professionals. These mobilizations, some with as little as 24 hours’ notice, found medical professionals having to leave their community clinical practices or hospitals to support the national pandemic response.
However, many employers responded to this mobilization of Reserve personnel with support, understanding that their employees were responding to a worldwide pandemic that went beyond their local community.
In recognition of such support, Assistant Nurse Managers Stephanie Brazil, Amy Hander, Leslie Pounds, and Julie Hamner with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health received the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriot Award for the extraordinary support they provided their employee who serve in the Air Force Reserve and were deployed to support DoD COVID-19 operations.
The awards were presented in a virtual ceremony by Ohad Lowy, Washington ESGR south sound co-chair and public affairs director. Also present, representing the Air Force Reserve 446th Airlift Wing, was 446th Aeromedical Squadron Commander Col. Kristina Forbes who thanked the supervisors for their support.
Brazil and Hander were nominated for the Patriot Award by Air Force Reserve Capt. Melissa Boos who works as a nurse at St. Joseph Hospital.
“Although I was already taking care of COVID patients at home, Brazil and Handler were incredibly understanding when I was deployed less than 24 hours’ notice to New York,” said Boos.
Pounds and Hamner were nominated for the Patriot Award by Air Force Reserve Capt. Kristen Houmes who worked as a nurse in the emergency department of St. Michael’s Medical Center. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pounds and Hamner ensured hours at work when I was available and took me off their schedule for changes to my military schedule,” said Houmes. “They adjusted my workdays without question, even when my military schedule was in flux.”
“The Patriot Award was created by ESGR to publicly recognize individuals who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to their employees who have answered their nation’s call to serve,” said Lowy. “Supportive supervisors are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the nation’s Guard and Reserve units.”
“Since I am local to base, I am called for many-last minute missions, both for active and training missions, as well as additional duty days” said Houmes. “My assistant nurse managers help move my schedule around or simply take me off the schedule completely and approve overtime for another nurse to come in to cover me while am gone on orders. Leslie and Julie make it easy, whether it is a simple phone call or a text message and are good at responding in a timely manner.
“I am immensely grateful for Stephanie and Amy for being so supportive of my career in the United States Air Force Reserve,” said Boos. “Stephanie and Amy have been supportive of the time away from my job to perform my reserve weekend duties.”
“I’m so very honored to be recognized and receive this award,” said Hamner. “I have always stood in awe of the tremendous commitment and sacrifice of those that serve our country, sometimes putting aside one’s self, goals, family and/or career. It takes mental and physical strength, courage, and perseverance. Their sacrifices and service allow me and those I care for my safety and freedom as an American. It’s without hesitation that I professionally do what I can to support their service and commitment. I’m honored to be recognized and continue to support those in service in this simple way that I can.”
ESGR is a Department of Defense program that develops and promotes supportive work environments for service members in the National Guard and Reserve through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws. ESGR also provides assistance in resolving conflicts between Service members and their employers.
For more information about ESGR outreach programs or volunteer opportunities, call (800) 336-4590 or visit www.ESGR.mil/WA.
Pictured: Assistant Nurse Managers Stephanie Brazil (far left), Amy Hander (second from left), Julie Hamner (top right), and Leslie Pounds (bottom right) with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health. received the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriot Award for the extraordinary support they provided their employee who serve in the Air Force Reserve and were deployed to support DoD COVID-19 operations.