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NEWS | June 11, 2020

Md. nurse practitioner served first mobilization on the front lines of military COVID-19 response

By Lt. Col. Meritt Phillips Army Reserve Medical Command

“My passion is giving patients hope and helping them to recover from their illness,” stated Capt. Chimdinma Deborah Ojini. “I am glad to answer the nation’s call to help the American public, even with the few hours of notice.”

A nurse practitioner serving on the front lines of the national COVID-19 response as a member of an Army Reserve Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force, Ojini marked her one-year commissioning anniversary of when she first became an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.

She is one of more than 1,200 Army Reserve medical professionals that have mobilized 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.

“My mission with the UAMTF was to help as many patients as possible to receive the best care and help make the workload lighter for my fellow healthcare providers,” shared Ojini. Her team was assigned to Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, New York.

“I loved caring for my patients and making a difference in patient’s lives at Elmhurst Hospital Center. I was assigned to work with psychiatric patients due to the great need in that area,” shared Ojini.

Ojani, traditionally assigned to the Northeast Medical Area Readiness Support Group, 7417th Troop Medical Clinic, based in Alexandria, Virginia, explained how she came to serve in the Army Reserve.

“I joined the Army to give back to the Nation. Coming to the United States gave me the opportunity of developing my potential, which I may not have had in my original Country of Nigeria,” stated Ojini, who has lived in Maryland with her family for the past 19 years.

“I started my healthcare career from the grass-root level,” explained Ojini who first worked as a certified nursing assistant. “I have the spirit of caring and believe that the higher the education I acquire, the better knowledge and skills I have to provide the best quality care to my patients.”

A lifelong learner, Ojini went on to earn her Associate degree in Nursing from Prince Georges Community College, in Maryland, before completing a Bachelor of Science and Masters Degrees in Nursing at Howard University, in Washington, D.C.

She made the decision to serve while completing her Doctorate in Nursing Practice with Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“I wanted to use my unique knowledge and skills to assist our uniformed men and women. I joined the Army as a Family Nurse Practitioner, 66P,” explained Ojini, “And in my quest to provide holistic care to my patients, I went back to school and earned a second Masters with certification in Psychiatry from Brandman University.

A wife and mother, Ojini shared that her husband, Eziamara Anthony and 4-year old daughter, Amarachi Esther, were supportive, but felt the sudden separation while she was on UAMTF mission.

“When I got the call that I needed to report to Atlanta at 1 p.m. the next day, I had to call my husband, who was on his way to work. He had to come back to assist me with packing so I could answer the nation’s call,” recounted Ojini. “My 4-year-old kept asking me on the phone to come and pick her up.”

When not in uniform, Ojini is employed by the District of Columbia Department of Child and Family Services Agency and with Prestige Healthcare. As she returns to her civilian capacity, she shared her thoughts on the pandemic.

“Providers should continue to be courageous and to do their best to save patient lives, while using appropriate personal protective equipment to protect themselves. Caring for patients is our passion and we will do it to the best of our abilities for the American public.”