Va. doctor, Navy reservist helps COVID-19 patients aboard the USNS Comfort

Va. doctor, Navy reservist helps COVID-19 patients aboard the USNS Comfort
Eric Parlette (Source: Eric Parlette)

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) -- US Navy Commander Eric Parlette is grateful for the opportunity to serve his country and help coronavirus patients aboard the USNS Comfort in the American epicenter of New York City.

“It’s humbling to be able to say I was a part of it," said Parlette.

For the Richmond doctor, his call to service began at a young age – taking after his father who also served in the Navy.

Parlette ran cross country and track at Virginia Tech and graduated in 1994 before attending the University of Virginia for medical school and serving nine years active duty in the Navy.

“I think the most important, or notable, word that jumps out is flexibility,” said Parlette.

Through that upbringing, Parlette certainly learned to be flexible – adapting to serve under any circumstances.

That’s why the current Navy reservist jumped into action when asked to help out on the Comfort.

“One of my colleagues from the reserves called me up and asked if I’d be willing to help serve on this new mission and I said, ‘absolutely,’ it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a huge, great challenge happening on our own soil here in the United States,” said Parlette.

From March 30 until last Saturday when the ship returned to Norfolk, Parlette worked in the Comfort’s operations center, coordinating care with New York City hospitals.

“We were responsible for reaching out to the surrounding hospitals, finding patients that we could bring onto the ship and help relieve some of that burden that they were being overwhelmed with at the New York City hospitals,” said Parlette.

It was a month-long journey into the epicenter of crisis that leaves Parlette with a sense of pride.

He along with his ship-mates are currently in the midst of a 14-day quarantine in Norfolk.

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