By Andrew Park
For the last few months, thousands of medical personnel from the Air Force Reserve have been working alongside their military and civilian counterparts to assist state and local governments across the continental United States in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After weeks away from their local communities, four nurses who mobilized from Dobbins Air Reserve Base (ARB), Georgia, returned to their home base on May 28. Air Force Maj. Enrika Ross, the 94th Aeromedical Staging Squadron’s nursing officer in charge, is one of these four nurses.
Over the past several weeks, she worked at New York City’s Queens Hospital as a nurse in the medical-surgical unit.
“At a time such as this pandemic, it is rewarding to give back,” Ross said. “I went into the medical field because my heart has always been geared toward helping to heal people.”
Reservists like Ross bring a unique skill set to the COVID-19 fight, as they’re able to bring their combined experience from their military and civilian careers. In Ross’s case, she’s a nurse practitioner at the Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, when she’s not serving at Dobbins ARB.
“I take my position as nothing but honor because I have always been honored to serve,” Ross said.
This courage and determination has already brought success, as she was fortunate enough to see patients heal and return home to their loved ones during her time in New York City, she said.
She also added that she successfully hurdled language barriers while providing care to the diverse population of patients in New York City. Many didn’t speak English, which created some initial challenges, but Ross said she remained persistent and worked through them.
“The patient would express their needs to loved ones and the loved ones would relay the need back to me in English,” Ross said. “It aided in better care for the patient in my opinion.”
Fear is a common factor to those fighting on the front lines of any battle, and the COVID-19 front lines are no different. Ross was aware of the risks she took in providing healthcare to patients at Queens Hospital, but her determination kept her moving forward in the face of danger.
“Yes, I’m conscientious about my health,” she said. “But at this point, I have a higher role to achieve, so I place my fears aside and help those who need me at this time.”
-This story originally appeared on af.mil. It has been edited for USO.org.
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