Shelia McCraney

Ashley Henson and Shelia McCraney recently returned to the Kansas City VA medical center (KCVA) from a two-week Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System (DEMPS) deployment to support COVID-19 efforts at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago.

Henson and McCraney are both skilled respiratory therapists with the KCVA. They responded to the call to action to fill in at the Jesse Brown VA medical center. They bolstered the hospital staff on the night shift, working with COVID-19 positive patients from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Henson is in the photo at the top of this story, in full PPE.

A “typical” tour

Their “typical” COVID-19 tour entailed long hours dressed in full personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE consisted of their Powered Air-Purifying Respirator, more commonly known as a PAPR, N-95 mask, double gloves and gown.

Henson and McCraney routinely cared for COVID-19 positive patients on ventilators and symptomatic patients each night. They provided care for two or three COVID-19 patients during their shift.

“The Jesse Brown medical staff practiced very advanced and strict adherence to the PPE protocol throughout my tour,” said Henson.

Henson and McCraney

When not working, the two respiratory therapists spent their time off recuperating from the long hours and physical distancing in the hotel. With the city practicing strict physical distancing protocol, they relied on local restaurant delivery options for all their meals.

Reflecting on their DEMPS deployment, Henson and McCraney said they were able to provide relief to the staff at Jesse Brown Medical Center and serve Veterans battling against COVID-19.

The staff at the Kansas City VA thanked the pair for their work following their return. Their tireless efforts reflect VA’s values of commitment and excellence.


Vic Ziliani is a marketing specialist for the Kansas City VA Medical Center.

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