Adventist Health Lodi Memorial holds send-off ceremony for Department of Defense medical teams

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LODI, Calif. (KTXL) — More than 100 hospital workers at Adventist Health Lodi Memorial lined the halls Tuesday to send off the Federal Medical Assistance Team, who were called in to help during San Joaquin County’s COVID-19 surge. 

The Department of Defense medical teams, which had been stationed in Lodi and at Dameron Hospital in Stockton since mid-July, left Friday as the number of coronavirus cases continues to decline in the county. 

“It makes me incredibly proud to have had the opportunity as a civilian organization to serve with our military,” said Daniel Wolcott, president of Adventist Health in San Joaquin County. “Obviously, I’m incredibly proud of our military here in America and it makes me just even more deeply proud of the men and women who served our country. And to have had the chance for them to help us in our time of need was amazing.”

The hospital handed out plaques to the medical staff, recognizing them for their hard work and help. 

“They made such an incredible impression on our team, their sense of camaraderie, their sense of spirit,” Wolcott told FOX40.

Wolcott said the hospital and patients were blessed to have them.

“That team allowed us to instead of turning away patients because we were at capacity for the amount of staff we had available, they brought in respiratory therapists and ICU nurses and med-surg nurses and doctors that allowed us to expand our capacity and take care of more patients in our community,” he said.

In a short ceremony, hospital staff and military personnel shared laughs and kind words about the bond they forged on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle. 

“We have a saying in the military: One team, one fight. And this fight is against the virus,” said U.S. Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Bob Suter.

Suter said his airmen were proud to answer the call. 

“We’re proud that World War C is not just the military. We’re proud that World War C is the entire health care community working together,” he said.

Wolcott told FOX40 the team did not just help the hospital care for patients, they also boosted staff morale as they were inundated with patients. 

“Taking care of COVID patients was taking a toll on our team,” Wolcott said. “The sense of resilience and the sense of optimism that came as a part of them being here was just, it was really heartwarming.” 

Adventist Health’s president warned that while the surge in San Joaquin County may be behind them, that doesn’t mean the need for wearing masks and social distancing is over. 

He said they’re holding their breath to see if there will be another surge from Labor Day.

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