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Tip of the spear: Armed forces medical team at ECMC

WBFO News photo

Walter Reed National Medical Military Center is providing Erie County Medical Center with 23 physicians, nurses, respiratory technicians and non-clinical staff to help ease burden the hospital is facing due COIVD-19 related staffing shortages.

The deployment of the Department of Defense’s Medium Medical Team is part of a larger plan by President Joe Biden to help ease staffing shortages at the most burdened hospitals across the country.

The MMT began working Jan. 11 and for 30 days are embedded in different areas of the hospital filling in where needed.

Lt. Cmdr. Diana Tran-Yu considers the deployment an opportunity to serve the American people while also working alongside them at a time of crises.

“So it is a federal state interagency partnership that we are pretty much hitting in the heart of the rescue recovery and we build efforts,” she said. “So it's a symbiotic relationship of the military, as well as the civilian healthcare professionals. We are functioning at the tip of the spear.”

(Clockwise from top right) LCDR Diana Tran-Yu, ECMC RN Kaitlyn Floyd and ENS Kelly Banko
Thomas O'Neil-White
(Clockwise from top right) LCDR Diana Tran-Yu, ECMC RN Kaitlyn Floyd and ENS Kelly Banko

Over the last 6 months, Tran-Yu’s team has had similar deployments in Montana and Louisiana. Coming to the City of Buffalo, Tran-Yu said ECMC rolled out the red carpet for them when they touched down for a few days of training on Jan. 7.

ECMC registered nurse Kaitlyn Floyd is happy to have added help on the frontlines.

“They are very trained professionals,” she said of the Department of Defense specialists. “They literally jumped right in and helped were ever needed and we are nothing but thankful for all of them. They have helped in ways they don't even know and we're just thankful to have them they will help us. It's all about teamwork and our number one priority is the patient no matter what.”

A stay in the Queen City is nothing without immersing yourself in the local culture, as Ensign Kelly Banko found out.

“We have had wings,” she said. “So that was one of the first things that we accomplished when we got here. First thing off the agenda. And they are great and I'm from [New] Jersey and our wings aren’t bad, but these are new level. And every one of us says we are amazed at how much of your culture is football, and I have never been to a city just revolves around football.”

The breakdown of MMT staff is four physicians, 14 nurses, two respiratory technicians and three non-clinical administrative support members. No word on whether the MMT stay could be extended if the staffing situation at ECMC worsens.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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