By Lt. Col. Meritt Phillips
| Army Reserve Medical Command | May 4, 2020
1st Lt. Gabriella Colombo, an Army Reserve physician assistant, pictured after her graduation from Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas in 2018. Colombo is currently serving with an Army Reserve Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force at the Jacobi Hospital in New York City. Colombo is one of more than 1200 Army Reserve medical professionals that have been mobilized as part of the Department of Defense response to COVID-19. (Photo by Courtesy photo)
Members of an Army Reserve Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force assigned to Jacobi Hospital in New York City, N.Y. pause for a photo after receiving homemade patriotic masks as a gift from 1st Lt. Gabriella Colombo’s grandmother, a former Navy nurse, Apr. 28, 2020. More than 1200 Army Reserve medical professionals have been mobilized as part of the Department of Defense response to COVID-19. Pictured from left to right, Lt. Col. Kevin Pittenger, critical care nurse; Capt. Teri Jo Schlunsen, nurse anesthetist; 1st Lt. Danele Cebrowski, physician assistant; Spc. Molly Brenner, combat medic; 1st Lt. Gabriella Colombo, physician assistant; Maj. Michelle Gail Signs, internal medicine physician; Capt. Desirae Michalisko, medical-surgical nurse, and Jacobi Hospital RN, Glenna Kilgore. (Photo by Courtesy photo)
“I am excited that we will be able to have a very direct effect on Americans’ lives,” stated 1st Lt. Gabriella Colombo, an Army Reserve 65D, physician assistant. “To apply lessons that I have learned, throughout my Army training as well as civilian training, to assist our citizens so we can defeat COVID-19 together.”
Colombo, a native of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, is one of more than 1,200 Army Reserve medical professionals that have been mobilized in Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces as part of the Department of Defense response to COVID-19, which is being led by U.S. Northern Command.
Specifically created to respond in this time of crisis, UAMTFs augment the civilian medical community by delivering a wide range of critical medical capabilities. Each 85-person UAMTF consists of doctors, nurses, combat medics, respiratory therapists, and ancillary personnel.
Colombo is currently caring for patients in the intensive care unit at Jacobi Hospital in the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx, New York City.
“My team and I are augmenting care to alleviate the strain on the civilian hospital. We have been assigned to a COVID-19 ICU and will be managing these patients,” shared Colombo. "We are Soldiers who all have different skill sets, all motivated to make a difference in the lives of our patients and their families.”
A member of the Army Reserve Medical Command, North East Medical Area Readiness Group, 7457th Medical Battalion based in Richmond, Virginia, Colombo is serving on her first mobilization since joining the Army Reserve.
“I joined the Army because the training and network that the Army provides is unmatched, I am always learning new information from physicians, medics, and nurses that I work with,” she stated. “I think it is valuable that we all have had different experiences, but can all pull together in times of crises and depend on our training.”
An alumna of the Pennsylvania State University, Colombo went on to Arcadia University to receive a master's in Medical Science.
“I work in an emergency department in Richmond, Virginia that is full of amazing providers. I have been there since I graduated from Physician Assistant school and will definitely be utilizing the lessons that I have learned and applying them directly to the patients that I will care for while on active duty.”
Colombo shared that her family has a history of military service including a grandfather who served as a Marine, a grandmother who served as a Navy nurse, and her uncle was a Navy pilot. Her grandmother, who continued to serve in the Red Cross after her military career, recently made and sent patriotic masks to her team.
“I am proud to follow in their footsteps, even though I am proudly in the Army and NOT the Navy, HOOAH!” she exclaimed. “My family is extremely proud. They are hoping that me, and my fellow Soldiers, stay safe throughout this mission.”
When asked about serving her first mission with the military in New York City, she stated “This is a distinct moment in history. We have the opportunity to give back to our citizens and help them in their time of need. I will look back on this moment in my life as one of the most meaningful periods. When I first joined the Army Reserve, I did so to serve American citizens, and help keep them safe. I hope that I and my colleagues will do just that.”