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    Commander Atienza honored to serve Farmington community

    Medical Response Team Supports Local Farmington Hospital

    Photo By Spc. Nicholas Goodman | FARMINGTON, N.M. -- U.S. Navy Cmdr. Arriel Atienza , assigned to Navy Medical...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Evan Ruchotzke 

    Defense Department Support to FEMA COVID-19       

    “My biggest challenge is going home at the end of each day and just wondering. ‘Is the best I’ve done, was it enough?’' said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Arriel Atienza, a physician attached to Medical Response Team Delta, currently assisting the staff at San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, New Mexico.

    As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its 2nd year, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen from across the nation’s Department of Defense healthcare organizations are being called upon to help communities ravaged by the deadly virus. Over 20 medical response teams are being mobilized to turn the tide in overwhelmed communities.

    Atienza is one of eight doctors, alongside over 30 nurses and respiratory technicians, sent from the Navy to assist the regional hospital. The facility serves both the local community and the nearby Navajo Nation. The medical center was one of the first to receive two medical response teams by the request of the local government, which brings the total number of DoD healthcare professionals on ground to 46, not including additional administrators and transportation specialists.

    Since arriving three weeks ago, the massive DoD contingent has been hard at work day and night to help relieve the overwhelmed local medical staff.

    This mission, however, is no different than what he’s been doing for the last two years according to Atienza.

    “It was winter of 2019 when I first heard about the virus,” said Atienza. “I was deployed with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group in the eastern Mediterranean, with an embarked Marine Expeditionary unit.”

    “It was so confusing and frustrating, and very worrisome because the amount of information we had on the clinical care was all very new. We had to invent a lot of new procedures and protocols to keep the unit battle ready,” said Atienza.

    Atienza is a former surface warfare officer and has 21 years of naval experience. Atienza, a Cornell graduate, calls Bremerton, Washington home. His family hails from Batangas, Philippines originally.

    “I was pleased, and quite lucky, to have worked with a very intelligent and professional team of medical colleagues, as well as receptive commanders in that yet unknown plight,” said Atienza.

    “Because of their hard work, the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group managed to return to the United States COVID free.”

    After returning to his home station, where he serves as a health-care provider to Navy Hospital Bremerton, Atienza continued to fight the disease despite his and his family’s lives being completely upended.

    “It was only last week that my family was able to attend church services again, we’d been live streaming since last year,” said Atineza.

    The physician said that despite all the sacrifices he remains optimistic and dedicated to his profession.

    “I am committed to treating everyone with the greatest amount of care that should be expected of humanity,” said Atienza.

    “COVID-19 is a terrible disease. It affects different people in different ways. As I was on my way to Farmington my home station was just starting to issue pediatric vaccines. I am so personally thankful that I was able to get my own children vaccinated and able to get to them to see their elderly relatives again. That was the reason that my family chose Bremerton as a duty station.”

    The medical response teams were called to mobilize rapidly, some members being given only a few days before flying into Farmington. The two teams will serve the community through the holiday season including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

    “I’m looking for a tumbleweed right now that I can adorn with Christmas lights,” said Atienza, with a laugh pointing towards the dusty Colorado Plateau just out the window.

    “But on Christmas Day you’ll find me in the hospital providing care, wearing my holiday hat,” said Atienza.

    Atienza said that despite having to work through the holidays, he doesn’t feel upset, but instead, grateful.

    “I feel honored to be helping the citizens of our country through the established Department of Defense framework to provide needed healthcare services to areas that are heavily hit by this serious pandemic,” said Atienza.

    “I’m honored to be here in Farmington and contribute what I can to the effort against this deadly disease.”



    Date Taken: 12.20.2021
    Date Posted: 01.07.2022 15:42
    Story ID: 411625
    Location: FARMINGTON, NM, US 
    Hometown: BREMERTON, WA, US

    Web Views: 64
    Downloads: 0