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A day in the life: Nurses

Maj. Rachael Rhodes,the 28th Operational Medicine Clinic Flight Commander, is ready to combat COVID-19 by taking care of those around us.

Maj. Rachael Rhodes,the 28th Operational Medicine Clinic Flight Commander, puts on latex gloves at the 28th Medical Group on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., April 16, 2020. Advice she adheres to during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) includes asking if there is a reason to leave home, aside from to work and only grocery shopping every few weeks. More advice included being mindful of surfaces multiple people have access to such as gas pump handles, keypads and electronic signing pens.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Quentin Marx)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Whether it is the common cold or a broken arm, sometimes it’s necessary to go to the doctor. One of the first people that will be seen are nurses, and that is no exception for the 28th Bomb Wing Family Health Clinic at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

Maj. Rachael Rhodes, the 28th Operational Medicine Clinic flight commander, directs four healthcare providers, and this does not change due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). For her, it is just another duty that she feels obligated to help mitigate.

“I work with a team of 20 personnel to help screen for illnesses and direct testing for individuals who meet testing criteria for COVID-19,” Rhodes explained. “We collect data for the screening questionnaires, order testing and collect samples when needed. The nurses advise patients on disease management and offer home care advice if applicable.”

Taking care of people is an Air Force priority. Taking care of Raiders is essential to Rhodes and her team.

“The nursing staff is considered mission essential,” Rhodes stated. “Being [this kind of] worker is nothing new to medical staff though. We have a duty to heal those who are sick and to protect those who aren’t.”

With unprecedented times, change is natural. With change, stress can be easily built and overcome an individual. For Rhodes, even when off duty, she takes time to connect with her patients in any way possible.

“A lot of what we do has to be done in clinic but when we are off work we can answer messages left from patients via computer links,” Rhode said. “Secure messaging has really helped us connect to our patients and provide written information about their healthcare needs. We may coordinate clinic appointments and help advise patients on their medical questions from home. On the off-time, I find myself looking up the current [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] updates and educating myself on the latest COVID-19 treatment research.”

Even with being mission-essential, Rhodes does follow recent guidance from wing and Air Force leadership, and goes beyond that – she takes care of her physical and mental states of being.

“I minimize the time I spend outside of the house,” Rhodes said. “I group grocery shopping into one trip every two to three weeks. When I do go out I bring hand sanitizer and use it after touching anything outside my house. I keep my distance from others when I do interact with people. Most importantly, I’ve picked better food choices, tried to get better sleep and spent less time on social media.”

She continued with sharing advice she had been adhering to such as asking if there was a reason to leave home, aside from to work and to grab groceries every few weeks. More advice included being mindful of surfaces multiple people have access to such as gas pump handles, keypads and electronic signing pens.

Unprecedented times may create change, but Rhodes and the 28th Operational Medical Clinic is here to provide for Raider Country at a moments notice.

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