COVID-19 has taken the world by surprise, forcing isolation, social distancing, and sacrifice. For one Reservist, the Nightingale Pledge and duty to her country ran parallel in her decision to help combat the virus.
Maj. Lizy Windsor, 944th Medical Squadron clinical nurse, was prepared to support the pandemic before the official notification came through.
“In the medical squadron, our motto is ‘ready for anything’,” said Windsor. “So when I was called, I was ready to serve.”
As the number of infected continued to rise, Windsor began getting her personal affairs in order.
In her civilian job, Windsor works as a critical care nurse in the cardiovascular intensive care unit at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz.
“Since the first group of our 944th medics deployed, we knew another wave was going to come so I wanted to be ready,” said Windsor. “I am blessed to have an awesome civilian leadership who made sure I had the days off from work, no questions asked.”
Leaving family, friends and a job she loves was already a big sacrifice, but Maj. Windsor is adapting another significant aspect of her life to volunteer for this deployment.
After gaining the support of her civilian counterparts, Windsor reached out to her school to determine what affect this deployment would have on her doctorate work to become a Psychological Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
“The faculty at University of Arizona, College of Nursing-Tucson, have been accommodating my needs,” Windsor said. “They were kind enough to open up their courses through the end of the semester and gave me extensions on assignments so that I can complete my course work to move forward toward my graduation in December.”
With the uncertainty of the virus and her day-to-day operations, Windsor knows that she may not have the time to finish her classes even with the accommodations, but that did not deter from her taking on this tasking. So with her affairs in order to the best of her ability, Windsor transitioned her focus to becoming the troop commander for her first deployment.
She is responsible for six nurses and six medical technicians who have different jobs, education, and experience levels.
“I am going with a great group of Airmen who have the skills, who are trained, and are ready to work,” she said. “In the unit we stay prepared so we can jump in to do the job when the need is there. It’s always “service before self.”
Windsor took the commanding reigns with the full support of her leadership.
“She is driven and the perfect example of our Air Force core values and what we look for in our leaders,” said Lt. Col. Robert Barth, 944th Medical Squadron interim commander. “She put in a lot of effort toward her doctorate but as soon as we needed her, she immediately made herself available; all while knowing that her ability to graduate this year maybe compromised. That’s dedication to the lives of others, above and beyond.”
Windsor believes that working in cardiovascular and trauma intensive care requires you to have skills to take care of some of the most complex and potentially life-threatening conditions. So being boots on ground in New York will be a fulfilling experience for her.
“The most rewarding aspect of my work is to see my patients get better and walk out of the hospital after a very complicated hospital course,” she said.
Even though Windsor, like all other medical professionals, had to make life-changing sacrifices to support the COVID-19 medical crisis, she does not regret any of her career choices.
“As a Reservist, I am able to pursue my civilian career, attend college full time, get medical and educational benefits, build my retirement, and at the same time stand ready to serve the nation with my valuable job skills,” Windsor said. “I am able to utilize my extensive civilian skills for a higher purpose.”