Fighting COVID in her own community

Feb. 12, 2021 | By Webmaster

Michigan National Guard

Story by Master Sgt. David Kujawa

FLINT, Mich.— For one Michigan National Guard Citizen-Soldier, a mission of national importance is happening right at home.

U.S. Army Maj. Michelle Hill, a nurse with the Joint Force Headquarters State Surgeon’s office, Michigan Army National Guard, who is serving on Michigan’s Task Force Spartan COVID-19 Vaccination and testing Teams (CVTT), is helping to administer the vaccines in her hometown of Flint, Michigan.

“As a lifelong Flint resident, I have served my community on various projects as a Community Health Nurse in the civilian sector, and now returned to serve during COVID-19 as a Citizen-Soldier,” Hill said.

Michigan National Guard (MING) CVTTs are working across the state in support of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services fight against the virus. One team partnered with the Genesee District Health Department in Flint to provide the COVID-19vaccine to local residents at eight different pop-up vaccination centers during January and February 2021. More than 4000 initial doses were administered to eligible community residents.

After graduating from Michigan State University (MSU) College of Nursing in 2010, Hill joined the Michigan Army National Guard as a direct commission officer in the Army Medical Detachment (AMEDD) as an Army nurse.

“Nothing has been more fulfilling than to administer the lifesaving vaccine to my fellow neighbors in the very school parking lot I graduated from in 1993, Northwestern High, Flint,” Hill said.

Michigan National Guard members have been deploying all over the state in response the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the teams have prior medical training, which comes in handy when assisting local health departments.

Kimberly Vanslyke, the lead director of nursing for the Genesee County Health Department Immunization Program, has worked very close with Hill and the CVTTs at numerous pop-up vaccination events.

“The Genesee County Health Department has received over 4,000 doses of the vaccine from the State of Michigan. All doses of the vaccine received are now in the arms of our residents,” Vanslyke said. “Our
staff of health care providers could never have accomplished the job to this point without the Guard, so we truly appreciate the assistance they have contributed.”

Hill has administered hundreds of COVID-19 vaccine doses since her CVTT mission started on December 13, 2020.

After health departments across the state transitioned from testing for the COVID-19 disease to also administering the COVID-19 vaccine, many have expressed a positive response.

“The warm embrace and appreciation received from patients fills my spirit with joy knowing I am participating in the initiative to stomp out the spread of COVID-19,” Hill said. “Our job is only half done. All those vaccinated will come back for their second dose and I will be happy to see them again.”

Despite the mask covering her face, Hill’s smile is evident to everyone entering the drive-up event to receive their vaccine.

“I have worked very close with Maj. Hill during this pandemic and I am inspired by the commitment she has to her community,” said U.S. Army Capt. Ronald Smith, a physician assistant in the MING, currently
serving as the officer in charge of several Task Force Spartan CVTTs. “We are continuing to build relationships within the Flint communities thanks to the entire team’s commitment and we are making an extraordinary impact.”

Both Task Force Spartan teams and Genesee County Health Department employees and volunteers work side-by-side daily, with uniforms being the only notable difference.

“We have learned so much by teaming up with our MING counterparts,” Vanslyke said. “Along with the MING CVTT’s, we also have many community volunteers with various levels of healthcare experience.
The level of effort and passion that Maj. Hill has for helping her communities is amazing to witness.”

The Michigan National Guard has spent 10 months testing for COVID-19 throughout the state, assisting in food banks, and working at regional care facilities. The Soldiers and Airmen have been essential in
fighting the virus and providing the state with other lifesaving efforts and now they are on to the important lifesaving effort of getting the safe and effective vaccine out to the people of Michigan.

For Hill, being a part of the state’s Task Force Spartan CVTT team couldn’t be more meaningful. “I graduated from MSU as a Spartan and now serving with Task Force Spartan for the MING - I’m a Spartan at heart,” Hill said.