In times of crisis, some people are drawn to service. For Kyle Bellaire, his desire to help others took him to the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.
Bellaire, 25, joined Aurora at the beginning of 2020 as a cardiology LPN at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee. However, his journey to the front lines started before that. A Racine native, Bellaire also serves in the U.S. Army Reserves 945th FRST, or Forward Resuscitative Surgical Team.
Last spring, Bellaire received orders to deploy to a combat support hospital in Edison, N.J. In a time of national and global uncertainty, he said goodbye to his family and friends and went to help COVID-19 patients in New Jersey and the New York City area.
“Leaving is never easy, but I had tremendous support. I was really excited to have a part in treating those impacted by COVID-19,” said Bellaire.
Bellaire headed out in early April, as he and 85 fellow soldiers treated patients at the Combat Support Hospital based at the Edison Convention Center. Later, he and others were pulled into JFK Medical Center in Edison to work in their COVID-ICU.
There, the patients Bellaire treated were often much worse off. Many were on ventilators, feeding tubes and IVs for meds and fluids. Some of these patients did not survive. While he was away, Bellaire stayed in touch with friends from St. Luke’s, and he says the support he got from colleagues helped keep him going.
“I learned how important it is to be flexible, especially when dealing with a poorly understood disease. Resilience is essential in these situations, and it’s even more important to check on your peers throughout,” said Bellaire.
Finally, in mid-May, Kyle came home to Milwaukee, greeted by his wife, Katie, at the airport after a grueling, emotional experience. While he doesn’t treat COVID patients currently at St. Luke’s, he carries with him the lessons he learned on the front lines of the pandemic.
“My main advice is to be flexible,” said Bellaire. “We should do our best to stay united and do what’s best for the world.”