NEWARK, NJ — The Department of Defense health care providers who touched down to provide relief to an overwhelmed University Hospital in April bid Newark adieu on Wednesday, marking an end to the peak that crushed the city’s hospital system last month.
The U.S. Army North mobilized 10 Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces to the heavy-hit East Coast to bring relief to hospital staff and care for COVID-19 patients. As hospitalization rates and positive cases continue to drop steadily throughout the region, Newark’s hospitals are now seeing the other side of the century’s worst public health crisis.
The task forces are made up of Army Reserve volunteers who were already on the front lines of their own communities battling the virus.
“We were honored to support the people of New Jersey and our fellow Americans during this unprecedented period in our country’s history, and we appreciate the opportunity to have worked with the administration and front-line healthcare heroes at Newark’s University Hospital,” U.S. Army Maj. Erin Velazquez, commander of the 332-1 Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force, of the 332nd Medical Brigade out of Nashville, said in a statement. “While we move on to our next assignment, we do so with a salute to the countless outstanding medical professionals that saw their communities through the worst of this pandemic.”
The unit tasked with supporting University Hospital supplied 13 doctors, five physician assistants, 13 nurses, four respiratory therapists, 16 medics, eight pharmacists, 18 medical support specialists, and eight administration and supply specialists. Two other task forces were dispatched in New Jersey, while surrounding areas like New York City, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Michigan received aid as well.
“The University Hospital community deeply appreciates the service these Soldiers provided on behalf of our patients, families, and staff. They left their families and loved ones to rush to the aid of our hospital, and to the people of New Jersey,” said Shereef Elnahal, MD, MBA, President and CEO of University Hospital. “These soldiers will always be members of our University Hospital family. We wish them well on their next life-saving mission.”