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Army Reserve Col. and nurse practitioner Patricia Goodyear and her five children, ages 6 to 12. (photo by N. Scott Trimble/Syracuse Media Group)
Army Reserve Col. and nurse practitioner Patricia Goodyear and her five children, ages 6 to 12. (photo by N. Scott Trimble/Syracuse Media Group)

Battling COVID-19

Nurse practitioner deployed to NYC during the worst of the pandemic

BY AMBER SMITH

 Army Reserve Col. Patricia Goodyear is a nurse practitioner at Upstate University Hospital who spent two months at Queens Central Hospital caring for patients with COVID-19, when New York City was hardest hit by the pandemic.

Here’s more about her experience:

She joined the Army Reserve at age 23.

“I joined back in 1988. Most of my family members had been in the military

at some point, so it was always something I wanted to do.”

She mobilized in March with two days’ notice.

“I was not really given any information about where I was going. I was simply informed that I was being mobilized for the campaign against COVID-19. We were all brought to Utica to begin with, and then parts of our group were divided off into other places to form 85-man urban task forces to deal with this disease.”

She was glad to serve.

“Honestly I thought it was an amazing chance to be able to help in a situation where you’re watching on the television news day after day a city within our state just suffering with this disease and needing health care providers.

“I also felt like for me, because I have five children — my oldest is 12, and my youngest is 6 — I didn’t have to worry about bringing it home to my kids every night.

“I won’t say I was excited because it is hard to leave home and leave your children, but I was glad to be able to help.”

She worked long hours.

“I have an acute care and critical care background, so they put me in the medical intensive care unit, which had some very severe needs at that time. Quite a few of their staff had contracted COVID-19. They had exposed themselves without realizing it because in the beginning, if the

patient didn’t come in with symptoms of COVID-19, the staff didn’t take precautions.

“We worked 12 to 14 hours a day six days a week. Queens Central Hospital uses EPIC for their electronic medical records, and we use EPIC at Upstate. That made my transition that much easier, because I knew how to use the charting system.”

She saw patients who did not survive.

“I had a few patients that I thought were going to do OK. In particular there was a patient that we had extubated (removed him from a ventilator) who was very young, in his 30s. After he was extubated, he seemed to be doing well and got transferred out of the ICU. When I went back into the records in EPIC, his name showed up. It said “discharged to morgue.” I couldn’t believe it.

“Most of the patients I treated were young. It was very hard for me.”

She and her team stayed healthy.

“Handwashing, hand sanitizer, wearing a mask and social distancing does a lot more than people give it credit for.

“We had 85 people in my task force, and there was another task force nearby. None of us caught COVID-19, and we were involved in caring for patients with COVID-19 daily for over two months. What was universal among all of us was social distancing, wearing a mask, using good handwashing and hand sanitizing.”


Upstate Health magazine's fall 2020 coverThis article appears in the fall 2020 issue of Upstate Health magazine.

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