NHRMC ICU department includes a group of nurses who have served their country

November 08, 2017
ICU Vets Blog Photo
Just after Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean Islands in September, registered nurse Patrick Kennedy called Neta Greenlief, his manager in the Surgical/Trauma/Neuro Intensive Care Unit at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

Could he miss work for the next two weeks, starting tomorrow, he asked.

Greenlief said she needed to check the schedule, but she already knew she would approve the request.

As a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, Kennedy had been summoned to an aeromedical staging facility in Tampa, Florida, to prepare medical crews to fly to St. Croix. Those crews would rescue residents who weren’t able to receive their needed medical care on the devastated island after Hurricane Maria.

Kennedy left Wilmington the next day and arrived in Florida to coordinate the staff, supplies and communications around the recovery effort. Up to 50 patients can be treated during a single flight then transported to Florida hospitals. The mission used the military and medical training Kennedy has honed in 28 years with the Air Force and Air Force Reserves.

“I knew our staff would understand when I re-arranged the schedule,” Greenlief said. “Patrick had an opportunity to help people who need him. Through his involvement with the Reserves, he’s helping people in ways that the rest of us can’t.”

The staff’s willingness to cover Kennedy’s absence came as no surprise. Kennedy is one of six veterans working the night shift in the NHRMC STNICU. In addition to Kennedy, the STNICU staff includes Paul Casper and Christopher Rutherford, U.S. Army; Stephen Golf, U.S. Marine Corps; James Moon, U.S. Air Force; and Stuart Robinson, U.S. Army and National Guard.

Some of the ICU veterans transferred from other departments at NHRMC, which employs more than 150 veterans overall.

And Greenlief is happy to have them and the work ethic they bring to the job. She plans to have flags displayed on the unit Saturday on Veterans Day to honor her veterans and the patients who also served in the armed forces.

“They are great employees. They are punctual, reliable, respectful and dedicated,” Greenlief said.

Every two or three years, Kennedy will be deployed for months at a time. During the war in Afghanistan, he flew into places such as Kandahar and Jalalabad, where his team needed protective support both in the air and on the ground as they cared for and transported critically wounded military troops and civilians.

Some of his experience translates to the ICU, where he cares for some of the most critically injured and seriously ill patients. During the war, Kennedy treated patients who had been hit with explosives. Today, his patients are more likely to have been injured in a motor vehicle crash or to have a life-threatening illness.

“It’s a different kind of adrenaline,” said Kennedy, who began his military career enlisted and rose through the ranks to officer. “You’re not on a hot, noisy aircraft facing the mortal danger of enemy fire, but you’re still part of a team helping people who need us.”
Categories: NHRMC People

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