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Navy nurse steps into Jacksonville community for COVID-19 vaccinations

Image of Military health personnel wearing face mask discussing the COVID-19 vaccine program. Navy Cmdr. Glenn “Pete” Bradford, a nurse at Naval Hospital Jacksonville, discusses the COVID-19 vaccination program in the Jacksonville, Florida, community with Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Morgan Helms and Navy Force Master Chief Michael Roberts, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery director, U.S. Navy Hospital Corps, to his left (Photo by: Navy Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Griffin Kersting).

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Navy Cmdr. Glenn "Pete" Bradford's COVID-19 vaccination mission exemplifies the Navy's unofficial mottos of "Always courageous" and "Not for self but for country."

As a nurse, Bradford serves with Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Jacksonville and Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida, and is one of 139 service members assigned to Task Force Southeast - Jacksonville. The task force is the primary Department of Defense support organization for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's response to COVID-19 in the region. He is the assistant officer in charge of the mission.

The vaccination hub – chosen by FEMA and the state because it is a medically underserved area – is in the parking lot of a mall in northern Jacksonville, Bradford said.

Since the outreach rollout began on March 2, the military team has given more than 57,000 vaccinations at the hub. In total, 83,600 vaccinations have been given to the Jacksonville community at the hub and through military-trained state-contracted staff members working at spokes of the hub and in mobile missions, Bradford said.

Robert Spence, the initial FEMA site lead and part of the unified command team with Bradford, said "Bradford is an exceptional leader who is respected by his sailors, peers, and leadership, and the Florida incident commander, Ron Beasley."

"As a retired member of the military," I was astounded by the cohesiveness of the DOD contingent, Spence said. "I was proud to serve alongside Commander Bradford and the state incident commander for this once-in-a-lifetime mission that brought the state, FEMA, and DOD personnel together to serve the citizens of Florida."

The pandemic has "stretched resources and personal adaptability," Bradford said by way of lessons learned. "Many of our civilian and active duty nurses have had to discover new ways to use their talents delivering vaccination efforts to our communities and to our beneficiaries...and many of these efforts are being led by highly capable nurse leaders in and out of uniform."

Bradford said the registered nurses are coming from the operating room, labor and delivery, post anesthesia care unit, the anesthesia department, and the medical/surgical ward. "All are working outside their normal place of employment to chip away at an invisible foe," he said and "Each is contributing to the vaccination mission as a trusted clinician, leader, and mentor to representatives of FEMA, the Florida Division of Emergency Management and community members seeking vaccination."

"The nurses have all become trusted advisors to the Jacksonville community when it comes to the citizens seeking information regarding their safety and the vaccine of their choice," Bradford said, and "each has been a role model naval officer and registered nurse when interacting with other employees on location, with our hospital corps staff and with our US Navy non-medical colleagues."

A TeamSTEPPS leader, Bradford follows this evidence-based set of teamwork tools, aimed at optimizing patient outcomes by improving communication and teamwork skills among health care professionals, especially regarding "communication efforts whether I am working with fellow nurses, hospital corpsmen or providers," he said.

TeamSTEPPS is a teamwork system developed by Department of Defense's Patient Safety Program in collaboration with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; and designed to improve health care professionals' communication and teamwork.

"I am the filter, the collaborator and the information distributor engaged in mission execution," Bradford added. "I assimilate the information from FEMA, Florida, Task Force South East, and Navy Medicine to ensure we are safe, clinically competent/accountable and representing the US Navy in an underserved area of Jacksonville with pride."

Regarding strides nurses have made in this last year under the pandemic, Bradford said: "Nurses are stepping up and continue to look at global medical support of warfighting efforts on land and at sea. I am proud of my Nurse Corps colleagues who continue to "right shape" the fleet with strategic nursing assets on carriers, fleet surgical teams and hospital ships."

Bradford, who comes from a third-generation military family, has served in a wide variety of Navy roles. He's been a submariner, instructor, charge nurse in emergency rooms, perioperative nurse, division officer for orthopedics and neurosurgery, in disaster relief aboard the Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy, and as a director of surgical services.

He was commissioned an ensign in the Nurse Corps in 2001 after being selected in 1998 for the Medical Enlisted Commissioning Program. He trained in the nursing program at Arkansas Tech University.

Since he joined the Navy in 1987, Bradford has been deployed to Afghanistan, the Pacific, Japan, and Iraqi. He has been in Jacksonville since 2020 and, in his role as the executive officer of Expeditionary Medical Facility - M, is responsible for the deployment preparations and readiness of 490 sailors.

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