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UW graduate helps provide COVID-19 care in role with the Army

File; University of Wyoming UW Student Union (Brendan LaChance, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — Army Captain Stephen Russell graduated from the University of Wyoming’s School of Nursing in 2017. He then “completed his initial Army training in 2018 and was transferred along with his family to Fort Bliss,” according to UW.

Russell worked as a nurse practitioner in primary care at Fort Bliss where he conducted annual wellness visits and sick-call visits and helped “soldiers maintain medical readiness for deployment,” UW says.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in March, Russell’s role changed.

“In March, I volunteered and was assigned to participate in the standing up of a Respiratory Virus Evaluation Center (RVEC) to assist with COVID testing and treatment at Fort Bliss,” Russell said in a Tuesday, Aug. 18 release from UW. “The RVEC serviced all active-duty soldiers and dependent family members who were prescreened as eligible for COVID testing.”

Russell was then deployed to Houston on July 13 as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency request to the Department of Defense.

“As part of an 86-person Army Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force, I have been providing inpatient care to COVID-positive patients at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, where we have established an inpatient COVID ward,” Russell told UW. “The work has been challenging, but the team here has been phenomenal. I have been doing my part to assist with the team effort as I learn from all of the incredible Army nurses and physicians on the team supporting the civilian hospital staff. There are some true experts here, and I do what I can to support them.”

Russell’s father John Russell works at the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center and informed UW of his son’s work in an email.

UW says that their Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing program offers students the opportunity “to learn and experience the benefits of interdisciplinary medical practice and how to implement that training in their career fields.”

“The University of Wyoming Doctor of Nursing program is directed at preparing advanced-practice nurses to provide primary care in an outpatient setting,” Russell said in the release. “This being said, the critical thinking skills, self-directed learning approach, clinical experiences and fundamental medical knowledge gained at UW have been a solid foundation to build on as I grow to meet the new demands the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to our citizens.”

School of Nursing Dean Sherrill Smith says that the UW’s School of Nursing is proud to hear when graduates are finding success in their careers.

“We are proud of our UW alumni who are supporting the health care needs of our communities, especially now during a global pandemic,” Smith said in the release. “We love hearing stories like Stephen’s that highlight how our graduates are prepared to make a difference wherever they may be.”

UW provides further details about their nursing program online.

This article originally appeared on Oil City News. Used with permission.

The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.