As an emergency physician, Alister Martin, MD, MPP, MGH Emergency Medicine, learned countless lessons working through the COVID-19 pandemic.
MGH leadership and staff recently gathered to recognize and thank the 28 members of the Air and Army National Guard who – since Dec. 27, 2021 – have helped support patient care at the MGH, primarily in the Emergency Department (ED). In late December, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that up to 500 guard members would be deployed to acute care hospitals and ambulance services across the state of Massachusetts for up to 90-days to provide staffing support and mediate the effects of the COVID-19 omicron variant surge.
“This was a simple way of saying thank you to all of the guard personnel who have acted as a safety valve for the work happening in the ED,” said retired U.S. Army Col. Dan Arkins, director of Development for Home Base and head of the MGH Military Veterans Partners (MVP) Employee Resource Group, which helped organize the event.
The MVP – an interdepartmental group committed to serving and supporting MGH’s active duty, reserve, former military and service member employees, as well as their families and external veteran community – presented MVP Challenge Coins, gift cards and Thank You cards to the Guard personnel. The presentation of Challenge Coins represents a long-held tradition in the military to commemorate organizations, units, teams, achievements, anniversaries, or special events. The coins pay special tribute to events personnel endured together and create long-lasting bonds.
“It was truly a win-win situation for both the military and the MGH,” said Arkins. “It wasn’t just the fact that they were providing relief, but it was the caring attitude of the Guardsmen, being good people, and constantly looking after each other that noticeably brought a calming presence throughout the ED. They really exemplified what it means to be a citizen-soldier or airman.”
retired U.S. Army Col. Dan Arkins
It was truly a win-win situation for both the military and the MGH. It wasn’t just the fact that they were providing relief, but it was the caring attitude of the Guardsmen, being good people, and constantly looking after each other that noticeably brought a calming presence throughout the ED.
Director of Development for Home Base
Head of the MGH Military Veterans Partners
The Massachusetts National Guard is the oldest continuously active unit in the United States Military. While there has been a long history of support of the military at the MGH, this was the first time the National Guard was deployed to the MGH. Many of the Guardsmen work other jobs or are students in their civilian life. Typically, Guard personnel serve during monthly drills and two weeks of annual training, not for up to 90-days at a time.
The MGH’s Associate Chief Nurses as well as leadership from Emergency Medicine also joined the MVP members to thank the guardsmen for their unparalleled support and presented gifts as a way to remember their time at MGH. Melissa Pineo, RN, Nurse Director for Emergency Medicine and mother of 2 sons serving in the Army helped organize the event.
“The level of skill and compassion each guard member provided every day was so obvious to our patients, families and staff,” said Debbie Burke, RN, DNP, MBA, NEA-BC, SVP for Patient Care and Chief Nurse.
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