'Really challenging’: Madison alum discusses service aboard USNS Comfort

Updated: Apr. 23, 2020 at 7:01 PM CDT
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NEW YORK (WAFF) - The U.S. Navy Ship Comfort is docked at Pier 90 on Manhattan’s west side. Its crew is preparing to leave the New York harbor after originally porting to help relieve local hospitals of their non-COID-19 patients. But its mission changed, and doctors and nurses adjusted to treat coronavirus patients.

One of those on the front lines is a young nurse from north Alabama. She is Ensign Megan Arnett from Madison. She’s a James Clemens and 2019 Auburn University nursing school grad.

When she arrived in New York City, she hit the decks running.

“We work 12-hour shifts. And the nurses down here, there’s four of us, we work three days on and one day off. We see several patients come in to the pier. They’re all transferred from other hospitals and it’s everybody from every walk of life,” Arnett said.

Arnett is a trained pediatric nurse, but duty called and she found herself working with sick adults who need constant reassurance.

"I think what’s really challenging is relieving their anxiety because these people, they’re used to just a regular hospital,” she said.

Arnett has also found being a ship’s nurse to be physically challenging.

“It’s getting up those ramps. They wear me out. My Corpsmen push the patients up and I’m chasing after them. And so I feel like as soon I get up there, I’m gasping for air," she said. “I think my dad being a retired Marine is definitely what’s prepared me best for this situation. He is an incredible human and he has made me into the person that I am today.”

But Arnett says couldn’t do what she does without the support of total strangers. She thrives off the notes and letters sent by children and adults who simply care and want to say thank you.

“These pictures behind me, those make my day truly. I don’t know that everybody knows that their support means so much. I’ve received letters from people I don’t know and it’s very overwhelming. I just want everyone to keep supporting us because we are really are making a difference out here and they’re helping us make a difference.,” she said.

If you’d like to write to Arnett and her shipmates, you can send cards and letters to:

USNS Comfort

Unit 100362

FPO AE 09566

(Attention: Chaps Hamilton)

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