JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
A Brooke Army Medical Center clinical nurse specialist used her training and experience to help vaccinate Afghan evacuees at Rhine Ordnance Barracks, Germany, Sept. 17-18.
Army Maj. Giang Martinez recently graduated as a clinical nurse specialist doctor of nursing practice from the Army Medical Department’s Long Term Health Education and Training program at Louisiana State University Health Science Center in New Orleans., where she focused, in part, on disaster relief and preparedness. The team she was part of was able to vaccinate more than 1,600 evacuees over a two-day period.
“It felt amazing to be able to use my knowledge and background to help all these people,” Martinez said. “That’s what being a nurse is about -- helping people.”
The humanitarian mission, led by the 30th Medical Brigade with assistance from Regional Health Command-Europe and operational units around Europe, administered measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, and chickenpox vaccines to provide protection for the Afghan evacuees. In total, the vaccination teams administered MMR and chickenpox vaccines to nearly 5,500 people.
“We originally estimated that it would take a week to vaccinate that many people, but set a goal to get everyone vaccinated in five days,” said Lt. Col. Julie Hundertmark, the 512th Field Hospital commander, who was responsible for setting up many of the vaccination sites and staffing them with the appropriate mix of specialties.
“I never dreamed we could finish in less than three days, but our diverse team of medical professionals came together quickly and functioned like a single medical element,” Hundertmark said. “This is a testament to how the Army medicine team does such a great job of coming together to meet our patient care needs when called upon.”
Vaccinations were administered at the request of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention due to a small number of measles cases in the United States among newly arrived evacuees from Afghanistan.
“I relied on my training as a nurse in the military, and my personal experience as a second-generation Vietnamese immigrant,” Martinez said. “This mission is a true testament to the training in the Army Nurse Corps.”
Army Col. Jana Nohrenberg, the RHCE regional nurse executive, praised Martinez for her efforts.
“Maj. Martinez’s contributions to the unique mission supporting the Operation Allies Refuge/Welcome response were vital in ensuring the highest quality, safe and efficient care was provided to the evacuee population and exemplifies the value that the (clinical nurse specialist) brings to the mission,” she said.
Martinez said for many the mission provided closure after serving multiple deployments and witnessing the aftermath of constant conflict.
“This mission brought us full circle, spoke to the soul of military nursing, and was a reminder of why we joined the military,” she said.