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MDS Airman supports COVID patient care in Arizona

  • Published
  • By Lauren Russell
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – A 66th Medical Squadron officer is supporting an Arizona hospital’s efforts to provide critical care to patients with COVID-19. 

Maj. Matthew Rakowitz, 66 MDS clinical nurse, deployed to Yuma, Arizona, earlier this month as part of a 15-member team comprised of Air Force Materiel Command medics who are augmenting staff at the Yuma Regional Medical Center.

“The situation is challenging but it’s been very rewarding to deliver this care to patients and support this medical staff, as well as to see the impact we’re having on this community,” said Rakowitz.

In addition to Hanscom, members came from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, Hill AFB in Utah, and Edwards AFB in California. 

“The collaboration between myself and the other AFMC medics has been near seamless,” said Rakowitz. “We’re confident in our Air Force training and we’re used to making those skills work together, wherever we may be.”

Of Hanscom’s 10 nurses, Rakowitz is one of two who are currently supporting global COVID-19 patient care. Capt. Matthew Garuccio, 66 MDS clinical nurse, is deployed to Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

“This is part of our mission and why we wear the uniform,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Boyle, 66 MDS chief nurse. “We have a job here to do at Hanscom, and we have a duty to support the larger mission of the Air Force.”

Rakowitz said he has relied heavily on his medical training and Air Force experience throughout this deployment, and encourages his younger wingmen at Hanscom to hone their skills.

“What’s most rewarding to me has been to help people and watch them heal,” he said. “Once you figure out what’s rewarding to you, do what you can to learn your job and you’ll be prepared when it’s time to do it.”