Navy reservist, Houston nurse deployed to New York to help COVID-19 patients

Our military has been fighting hard in the war against coronavirus.

Thousands of military members are doing everything from disinfecting public places, handing out food, to working in mobile hospitals.

Many of them are staffing mobile testing sites and working in the hardest hit emergency rooms.

We caught up with the emergency nurse manager from Houston Methodist Hospital, who was deployed to New York to help out in one of the hardest hit areas.

Lieutenant Commander Ike Akanu is serving temporarily as the lead nurse at Amherst Hospital in Queens, New York.

"My employer (Houston Methodist Hospital) has been very supportive as a military reservist, and they know I could be called for any reason to support the country. When I told them I was getting mobilized to New York, they were very supportive of that," explains Lieutenant Commander Akanu.

He was in the throws of treating COVID-19 patients here in Houston the first of April and admits he was surprised to get the call to head to New York a month ago. However, he says he's always ready and willing to deploy and serve in any way he can.

"Taking care of people on the front lines has been a privilege. I was assigned to one of the hardest hit places in New York City, and when I got here, it was quite shocking to see the level of illness that the patients were going through and to see how many sick people were in the emergency room," states Mr. Akanu.

He says what he has witnessed at the hospital is comparable to war.

"I have been privileged to serve my country in Afghanistan and Iraq, and this situation is compared to that, it is controlled chaos and we try as much as possible to use the resources we have to take care of our patients. I don't know what the future will hold, but our team in the military has been working hard to take care of our staff and team leaders. We check-in with our sailors and soldiers to make sure they get time off to decompress and then get back to the fight," explains Lieutenant Commander Akanu.

He doesn't know how much longer he'll be in New York, but looks forward to the day he gets to come back to Houston to his job here and loving wife and young children. "I'd like to thank my Methodist family for supporting me to serve as a reservist. I'd like to thank my wife and children, my family, and let them know I miss them, but what we're doing here is great and I’ll be home soon," says the Lieutenant Commander. 

For more on the military's efforts click here.