Two U.S. Department of Defense Military Medical Teams (MMT) have been deployed to support clinical operations at UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital. The Air Force medical teams – which consist of a total of approximately 40 clinical personnel and support staff – arrived in Rochester over the weekend.
“We are deeply grateful as a medical center and as a community to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Defense Department, and the members of the Air Force medical teams who have traveled from across the country, leaving their families behind, to provide vital support to Strong Memorial Hospital in this time of need,” said University of Rochester Medical Center CEO Mark Taubman, M.D., Ph.D. “Their arrival is an incredible morale boost to our staff and we look forward to welcoming them as members of the UR Medicine family and thank them for their service and sacrifice.”
The two Air Force MMTs assigned to Strong Memorial Hospital consist of physicians, medical-surgical nurses, respiratory therapists, medical technicians, and support staff. The medical personnel are being deployed to Rochester from military facilities in Nevada, Texas, Alabama, New Mexico, and Arizona, and the mission is part of the Defense Department’s ongoing COVID response operations to support FEMA and New York State.
The military medical personnel arrived at Strong Memorial Hospital on Saturday, are in the process of being trained in hospital systems and procedures, and will begin service in medical-surgical, alternative level of care, and other units in the hospital beginning this week. The mission in Rochester will consist of a minimum 30-day deployment that commences once the teams are operational, meaning they have been integrated into their assigned units and begun clinical work.
“Our team is excited to be here and help out during this time of need,” said Lt. Col. Allan Delgado, a Family and Aerospace Medicine Nurse Practitioner with the U.S. Air Force. “We’re proud and grateful to support FEMA and the great state of New York, serving alongside those who we swore to protect.”
On January 21, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer visited Strong Memorial Hospital to announce he had written to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell requesting that the agency deploy military and disaster medical assistance teams and other federal medical personnel to the Finger Lakes and other regions of New York State to assist with the omicron COVID surge. Ten days later, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that FEMA had agreed to deploy MMTs to Strong Memorial Hospital and SUNY Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, and that a team that had earlier been deployed to Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo would extend its mission.
“Senator Schumer, Governor Hochul, and our representatives in Washington and Albany have been steadfast in their support for the health care community providing critical relief throughout the waves of this pandemic, which has strained hospital capacity,” said Steven I. Goldstein, M.H.A., senior vice president of the University of Rochester Medical Center who serves as president and CEO of Strong Memorial and Highland hospitals. “We thank them for their efforts. The arrival of the Air Force medical personnel, who will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our medical teams here at Strong, could not come at a more important time, and will help our overburdened health care workforce to continue providing the highest level of care to patients across Upstate New York.”